Asham Under 21 Success for Davie and Whyte
The 35th Inverness Junior International was played to a successful conclusion at Inverness Ice Centre over the weekend, where Team Davie (pictured right, Lisa Davie, Kirsty Barr, Annabel Skuse and Emma Barr) won the girls event, while Team Whyte (Ross Whyte, Callum Kinnear, Ryan McCormack and Duncan McFadzean) came out on top for the boys. The competition, part of the Asham Under 21 Slam and sponsored locally by William Gray Construction and ARK Estates, had attracted a strong field along with a smattering of local talent.
A couple of late call-offs in the boys event led to late changes to both the draw and the format, the boys event moving to two sections of five. The down side was that to accommodate the additional sessions the event moved to eight end games from the original ten end format.
In Section A of the girl’s event Karina Aitken’s RCCC Academy rink went both untroubled and undefeated through the qualifying section. The other three rinks all ended on a 1-2 record but in the end it was Greenacres Lucy Blair, with a makeshift rink containing local curler Katie Millar, who made a cold draw with the last stone of the section to go through by one shot.
No team was able to dominate Section B with three teams finishing on a 2-1 record. When the dust settled another Academy curler, Forres’s Amy MacDonald, had topped the section. Second spot was a straight shoot-out between Lisa Davie from Stirling and Forfar’s Beth Dandie. Davie needed both the win and ends to go through and did enough to secure qualification.
Both semis appeared to be going against the Academy teams. The first pitted Karina Aitken against Lisa Davie. The scoreboard told the story with Davie dominating the opening ends and opening a 3 shot lead in three. Davie’s control continued when she forced Aitken to a single in four but poor rock placement in five allowed Aitken to manufacture a steal of two and the scores were tied. However, the Aitken rink were unable to exert any further pressure as Davie and her team maintained their composure, blanked the penultimate end then sealed the deal with a closing three as Aitken was forced to chase the steal she needed.
In the second semi-final Team MacDonald (pictured left) faced Lucy Blair, the Blair rink further amended through injury. Despite being firm favourites in this game, the MacDonald rink couldn’t exert any control with Blair making several clutch shots when required. The scores were tied after four but MacDonald appeared in serious trouble when Blair stole a deuce then forced a single to lead by one with hammer coming home. MacDonald did what she had to, asked the question by lying two counters and left Blair a draw for game. It wasn’t to be, the stone ending an inch short and MacDonald had squeaked into the final.
The final was the second MacDonald v Davie game of the weekend – in their round robin match Davie failed to come out of the traps and MacDonald was never seriously troubled after opening a 6-0 lead. The final was an entirely different affair with the Davie rink starting well and maintaining their form. Tied after three Davie took control with steals in four and five. She eventually closed out the final when MacDonald’s attempted final split narrowly failed to make contact with the target stone and handshakes were offered. 6-3 was signed for and a deserved title for Team Davie.
In the 3/4 game the Blair rink were competitive throughout but couldn’t overcome the Aitken rinks experience or the loss of an early four. Valuable slam points for Aitken. Invaluable experience for the Blair rink.
Qualification in the boy’s event was clearer cut than the girls. In Section A Ross Whyte’s Academy rink (pictured right) went undefeated though they were pushed close by both James Craik and James Hair. David Baird also had an excellent qualifying campaign dropping just his final game to Whyte at the end of the section.
Luke Carson, another athlete in the Academy programme, dominated Section B and with third player James Carsewell solid throughout, finished on a 5-0 record. Kinross curler Grant Barr narrowly defeated Callum MacLean at the end of the round robin to secure the final place in the knock-out stages.
Carson faced Baird in the first semi-final and looked to have the upper hand over the opening exchanges before posting five in five to end the contest. The Whyte and Barr rinks went toe to toe in the second semi and the scores were tied after five. However, quality set up play by Whyte’s front end rink of Ryan McCormack and Duncan McFadzean and precision from third player Callum Kinnear put Whyte in a position to close things out with a big four to end the contest.
The final between the two unbeaten rinks was not the finale the audience anticipated. Team Carson (pictured left) were effectively out of the contest when having been forced to an opening single Whyte followed with steals of one and three to lead by five. The Carson rink did manufacture opportunities thereafter but Team Whyte were able to hold them at bay and the game was eventually conceded at 9-3.
The 3/4 game contained a multitude of quality shot-making as both rinks reflected on what could have been with Baird finally pipping Barr with a closing draw for the game.
A successful competition with two worthy winners and several teams emphasising their credentials for the forthcoming junior championships. The organising committee would thank RCCC Umpires Ormond Smith, Mike McInnes, Harold Forrester and Alan Stanfield for their efforts over the weekend.
Report and photos: Inverness Ice Centre
Winners – Team Davie:- Lisa Davie; Kirsty Barr; Annabel Skuse; Emma Barr
Runners Up:- Team MacDonald:- Amy MacDonald; Amy Bryce; Nicola Joiner; Layla Al-Saffar
3rd Place:- Team Aitken:- Karina Aitken; Rebecca Morrison; Hailey Duff; Laura Barr
4th Place:- Team Blair:- Lucy Blair; Tamzin Smith; Katy Young; Katie Millar; Holly Davis
Winners – Team Whyte:- Ross Whyte; Callum Kinnear; Ryan McCormack; Duncan McFadzean
Runners Up:- Team Carson:- Luke Carson; James Carswell; George Ballantyne; Mark Taylor
3rd Place:- Team Baird:- David Baird; Fraser Kingan; Robin McCall; Gavin Barr
4th Place:- Team Barr:- Grant Barr; Zack Stewart; Kerr Sands; Alistair Middleston
Line scores from the weekend can be found on the Asham Under 21 Slam – Inverness Junior International.