Success at ECC bodes well for Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games in February.
Scotland’s women team have been crowned Champions at the 2017 European Curling Championships (ECC), with the men just missing out in the final.
The ECC, held in St Gallen, Switzerland featured teams from around Europe, although Scotland was the only representative of the UK in the A division. The arena also saw an outdoor skating rink converted into a curling rink.
The outdoor rink allowed “people the chance to join curling clubs here in St Gallen and to promote the sport”, said event organiser Paddy Kaeser.
At competition level, a game of curling consists of 10 rounds called ends, during which each of the four players in a team throws two stones. Each team has an “alternate” who may replace another player in games.
The women’s team, captained by Eve Muirhead of Olympic fame, consisted of Anna Sloan (Third), Vicki Adams (Second) and Lauren Gray (Lead), with Kelly Schafer as alternate.
After a loss to the Swiss hosts in the round robin, Team Muirhead went on ice determined to win their semi-final. After a close game, the Scots managed to pull ahead to win 7-5, qualifying for the final against Sweden and guaranteeing an eighth consecutive medal at the European Championships.
Team Muirhead went into the final knowing they could beat the Swedes – having done so 10 times out of a previous 19 – but also in the knowledge it would be no easy feat. The game started slowly, with several blank ends meaning that the score at the half-time break (after 5 ends) was just 2-1 to the Swedes. In the second half of the game, however, the Scots piled on the pressure and pulled ahead, winning convincingly, 6-3.
The men’s team consisted of Skip Kyle Smith, Thomas Muirhead (Third), Kyle Waddell (Second) and Cameron Smith (Lead), with Glen Muirhead as alternate.
The men also had a tricky time in their semi-final against Switzerland. Despite having also lost to the Swiss in the round robin, they were determined to make it to the final. The Scots made a strong start, stealing a three in the second end. However, the Swiss quickly caught up, with several big point ends. The game stayed neck and neck right to the last minute, where Scotland stole two to win 9-8.
The men also found themselves in a match against Sweden in the gold medal match. The Swedes were the reigning champions, and keen to hold onto their title, and had a convincing win rate against their opposition. In the first half, the Scots were on the back foot, with the Swedes immediately taking control of the game. In the second half, the Scots made a convincing attempt to come back but didn’t quite manage to, relinquishing the initiative to their opponents in the ninth end after being forced into difficult shots and surrendering two points. In the final end, Swedish victory was secured by taking four points, as they were crowned champions for the fourth consecutive year, leaving the game at 10-5.
Representing England’s men in the B division at St Gallen were two of our very own Glasgow University Curling Club members – club president Ben Fowler (as third), and Honorary President Jim Whittle (as alternate). The England team finished in ninth place overall, winning two out of their seven games.
As curling continues to grow as a spectator sport, the World Curling Federation currently live streams a number of high profile games for free.