Preview: Co-operative Funeralcare Scottish Curling Championships
The annual highlight of Scotland’s curling season gets underway on Monday at Dewar’s Rinks, Perth when play begins in The Co-operative Funeralcare Scottish Curling Championships.
Altogether ten men’s teams and nine women’s teams will be vying for national titles and the honour of representing Scotland at the World Championships later in the season.
In the men’s event, Curl Aberdeen’s Tom Brewster and his team – third Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews and lead Michael Goodfellow – will be trying hard to defend their title, but there is experience aplenty among the rest of the field. Brewster opens his round-robin programme on Monday afternoon against Stranraer’s Jay McWilliam. Among the other teams, strong challenges could well come from Lockerbie’s two-times world champion David Murdoch, and the Inverness quartet skipped by Ewan MacDonald, who was shoulder-to-shoulder with Murdoch during the last Olympic cycle.
The sole team representing Perth is led by former world champion David Smith, supported by another former world champion Warwick Smith, and there are several former junior national champions scattered among the other teams involved. The other men’s teams are led by Curl Aberdeen’s David Edwards; Murrayfield’s John Hamilton; Stirling’s Logan Gray; Lockerbie’s Graeme Black; and Forfar’s Murray Young.
In the women’s event, last year’s winning skip Anna Sloan is now playing third for Perth’s Eve Muirhead in a team – along with Vicki Adam and lead Claire Hamilton – that won the European Championship in Moscow in December. The European champions open against Jennifer Martin’s quartet on Monday afternoon.
Among the rest of the women’s teams involved, two are led by previous winners of this title in the shape of Aberdeen’s former world champion Jackie Lockhart and Stranraer’s Gail Munro. The women’s field includes the teams of Galleon’s Jennifer Martin (who is the daughter of 2002 Olympic champion Rhona Martin); Murrayfield’s Jennifer Dodds; Lockerbie’s Hannah Fleming; and a further two teams from Murrayfield, skipped by Gina Aitken and Kerry Barr.
In both the men’s and women’s events, round-robin play continues through till Friday with, after tie-breakers if needed, the top four teams moving onto weekend Page Play-off action.
The women’s final takes place on Sunday, starting at 11.00, with the men’s final following at 3.00pm.
This is the first of a three-year sponsorship deal for the national championships between The Co-operative Funeralcare and the Royal Caledonian Curling Club and, in welcoming the new sponsor on-board, RCCC Chief Executive Bruce Crawford says, “We are delighted to have this new partnership arrangement with The Co-operative Funeralcare in place. In the current challenging environment, it is particularly pleasing that our flagship event is going to be supported by them for three years. This provides the type of stability that will let us make future plans and develop our blue riband event even more.”
George Tinning, Managing Director of The Co-operative Funeralcare, part of the Co-operative Group said, “We are delighted to be able to sponsor The Scottish Curling Championships. Scotland produces world class curling athletes and we are proud to support the championships which will propel them to the international stage. We have strong links with many local communities, and this sponsorship is one way in which we can give something back to communities all over Scotland.”
In a further positive development, the RCCC announces that BBC Scotland Sport will broadcast live web streaming of the finals online with highlights scheduled to be shown on Tuesday 21st February, BBC2 at 7pm for the Women’s Final and Wednesday 22nd, BBC 2 at 7pm for the Men’s.
Bruce Crawford says, “With this year’s broadcasts being in peak evening time, curling will be seen by more viewers on BBC Two and online. All in all, it’s a great platform for our sport as we build towards the next winter Olympics in 2014.”
There will be daily up-dates on www.royalcaledoniancurlingclub.org, and the RCCC Facebook and Twitter pages for the duration of the Championships, with full reports on all Page Play-off games.