Curling Elite Set for National Championships in Perth
The highlight of Scotland’s competitive curling calendar, The Co-operative Funeralcare Scottish Curling Championships, get underway on Monday 10th February 2014 at Dewars Centre, Perth. Ten men’s and seven women’s teams will be competing at this year’s Championships which run until Sunday 16th February.
Two rounds of qualifiers in January decided the top ten men’s teams who will battle it out for the men’s title at Perth and the opportunity to represent Scotland at the World Championships in Beijing, China, later this year.
Among them is last year’s finalist and 2014 Mercure Perth Masters winning team skipped by Logan Gray, who face a testing opener against Lee McCleary’s men who defeated Gray in the qualifiers to secure top spot in their group and their place amongst the elite in Perth.
Previous Scottish men’s finalist Moray Combe and his team have a challenging start to their campaign against Performance Squad Team Grant Hardie (left) who recently finished third on the Goldline Scottish Curling Tour.
Also in action are the current World Junior Champions skipped by Kyle Smith who secured their third Scottish Junior Championship title in succession just two weeks ago. They open against Ally Fraser’s Inverness rink.
Alongside them are 2013 Edinburgh International winners skipped by David Edwards (pictured top). They begin their title bid against past Scottish Champions and experienced internationalist Team Warwick Smith.
Completing the afternoon’s line-up is the recently formed Murrayfield rink of Team John Hamilton who face stiff opposition against a team skipped by former World Champion and Olympian Ewan MacDonald (right).
Missing from this year’s Championship are Tom Brewster’s 2013 Scottish Champions and World Bronze Medallists. Their five man squad which includes David Murdoch, Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews and Michael Goodfellow were selected for Team GB, for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games and are currently in Sochi, Russia, representing Great Britain in the men’s Olympic curling event.
The format for The Co-operative Funeralcare Scottish Men’s Championship will be a round robin with the top 4 teams progressing to the Page Play-offs.
The Co-operative Funeralcare Scottish Curling Women’s Championship this year comprises a double round robin with the top three teams progressing to the Mini Page Play-off. The first five draws took place at Dumfries Ice Bowl in November 2013 and the remaining games will be played out at Perth next week.
Seven of Scotland’s top women’s teams are competing in this year’s Championship with a number of teams in with a good chance of lifting the women’s trophy and earning the right to represent Scotland at the World Women’s Championship in Saint John, Canada in March.
Current Scottish Champions Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams and Claire Hamilton are not amongst this year’s field. They went on to win Gold at the World Women’s Championship in Latvia last year and capped off an outstanding season when they were selected for Team GB for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. They are currently in Sochi, Russia representing Great Britain in the women’s Olympic curling event.
Topping the table after the first five draws are 2013 Co-operative Funeralcare Scottish Women’s Championship finalists and former Scottish and World Junior Champions Team Hannah Fleming. Fleming (left) will be looking to go one step further this year in adding the national Women’s Championship title to her accolades when she opens against Murrayfield’s Gina Aitken on Monday afternoon. Despite a disappointing start with just one win in four, Aitken will be relying on her recent form winning the Scottish Junior Women’s Championship title in January to see her through to the knockout stages.
Aitken’s first test however is on Monday morning against Jennifer Martin’s Galleon rink. Martin narrowly missed out on a play off place in last year’s Championship to Murrayfield’s Kerry Barr who also sits on 3 wins. Barr continues her campaign against Jennifer Marshall’s rink when the first session of women’s play starts at 8:00am.
2013 Aberdeen Ladies Open winners Team Lorna Vevers (right) open against Stranraer’s Gail Munro, finalist in 2012, but who failed to reach the play offs last year after a disappointing round robin. Munro currently props up the table on one win out of four.
For the third year running The Co-operative Funeralcare are title sponsors of the Scottish Curling Championships. George Tinning, Managing Director commented, “We’re delighted to see the success of the teams competing last year with the winners going on to achieve medals at the World Championships and now represent Team GB at the Winter Olympics. Let’s hope the competition this year generates some more great results.”
Alan Durno, President of The Royal Caledonian Curling Club, praised the quality of competition so far, “The early stages of this competition have already produced some excellent curling of the highest standard, from the first draws of the women’s event to the qualifiers of the men’s event.” He continued, “it is very exciting to see teams from a range of ages playing in the competition, including current and former World Junior Champions. This promises to be a very enjoyable week of curling for players and spectators.”
The Women’s Final will take place at 11:00am on Sunday 16th February followed by the Men’s Final at 3:00pm. Entry to the Championships is free all week. Please note finals seating will be rink side and warm clothing is advised.
Live televised coverage of both finals will be available on the BBC Sport website
Play begins on Monday 10th February at 8:00am. The Royal Caledonian Curling Club will be providing live game by game line scoring and results coverage at Scottish Championships
Highlights of The Co-operative Funeralcare Scottish Curling Women’s Championship Final will be broadcast on BBC2 Scotland on Tuesday 18th February followed by highlights of the Men’s Final on Wednesday 19th February.
The winning teams will go on to represent Scotland at the World Women’s Championship in Saint John, Canada from 15-23 March and the World Men’s Curling Championship in Beijing, China from 29 March to 6 April.