November 19, 2009

Edinburgh is the next Champions Tour event

It all gets underway next week! The Edinburgh International Seniors begins on Wednesday, November 25, and the Edinburgh International Championship will be on at the Murrayfield Rink, November 27-29.

What a season that Thomas Ulsrud of Norway is having on the Curling Champions Tour! He is uncatchable at the top of the table having won an astonishing Can$62,436. The table is here. Edin and Stöckli are having strong seasons as well and their positions at the top of the table will not be challenged next weekend. It would have been nice to have Ulsrud, Edin and Stöckli compete in Edinburgh, which is the next Champions Tour event, there is enough going on elsewhere in the table to make the weekend’s proceedings interesting.

With Can$7,500 going to the winning team in the competition, there are a number of competing teams that can make a big move up the table. World and European Champions Team Murdoch have had a quiet start to the season by their own standards, but began to show some form in the recent Lucerne tournament, reaching the semi final stages of the competition before losing out to the all-conquering Ulsrud. The team is bubbling nicely towards top form for the European Championships, so I expect them to feature strongly in the Edinburgh International – a competition that David has won before. In the event of a Murdoch victory, they would move immediately from 6th to 4th in the overall table.

Team Kapp could also make a major move up the league if they repeat last year’s victory. A win, for example would take them from 9th to at least 5th and potentially even 4th. Andy has a strong team with him this year. Andy Lang, Holger Hoehne and Andreas Kempf return and the team has been strongly tipped to medal not only at the European Championships but at the Olympic Games as well.

Team Loudon, with Logan Gray, Richard Woods and recently-crowned European Mixed Champion Colin Campbell, hover in the top 15. Skip Pete Loudon has been around the block a few times and has been a regular skip in the final stages of the Scottish Championship these past few years. In Logan Gray, he has a talented player at third – destined perhaps for great things. He is a three-time Scottish Junior Champion and appears regularly on the Champions Tour – either as a player or as a commentator. Fifth place in the overall league is within their grasp depending how well they – and how badly others – perform.

Two other hardy Scottish competitors, Warwick Smith (that's him in the photo above) and Hammy McMillan hover in the wings. Hammy and Philip Wilson bring their young front end of Ross Paterson and Sandy Gilmour for another crack at the title. Warwick’s team, Scottish Champions only three seasons ago, are still up for the challenge. They would all of them love to win the Scottish Championship and have another crack at the World Championships. David Smith is just one Scottish title (he has nine), behind his brother Pete’s all-time record of ten.

A win in the Edinburgh International for either of these two teams would catapult them up the Champions Tour League table and kick start their seasons.

It is at the bottom end of the table, mind you, where the biggest moves can be made. A good weekend for any of Teams Dick (Scotland), Śik (Czech Republic), Due (Norway), or Retornaz (Italy) could move them from the obscurity of the late twenties in the table to the giddy heights of the top ten.

Now – there’s a thought to warm the cockles of a cold winter’s heart!

Robin Copland

Warwick Smith's photo is © Skip Cottage

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