Friday, August 30, 2013

The European Mixed in Edinburgh

Edinburgh. Scotland’s capital city and home to quite a big castle; its main street is only built up on one side, so that people can look up at said castle; its New Town is older than the USA; its zoo has two pandas, one of whom (the female) may be pregnant (right enough – the male probably wouldn’t be); and home of the Spanish-upturned-fishing-boat and very, very expensive Scottish parliament.

Yet never – not once – has she ever hosted a European, never mind World curling championship. Well – that’s not strictly true. When the old Scotch Cup used to come-a-calling back in the late fifties and early sixties, rounds were played in different rinks, so the old Haymarket rink of blessed memory hosted the odd round of play.

This is all about to change though because later this month, from September 14-21 to be precise, Murrayfield curling rink is putting on a show. After visiting Andorra, Italy, Spain, Austria, the Czech Republic, Greenacres, Denmark and Turkey, the European Mixed Curling Championship is coming back to Scotland this year and Edinburgh is the host city. Andy Morrison, chair of the organising committee, and the rest of his team have been working hard to get the event off the ground with very little notice.

The EMCC started as recently as 2005. The first event was held in Andorra. I played in the rink the weekend prior to the inaugural event in a Reform CC overseas outing and it is fair to say that the ice was 'interesting'. The combined talents of Mark Callan and Scott Henderson, neither of them mugs at the old ice technician game, managed eventually to get things vaguely playable with about ten feet of swing. I should perhaps add that this was on the reverse hand – it took me back to my youth at Crossmyloof! After that somewhat inauspicious start, the competition has rumbled along merrily. Scotland has a great record with first-place finishes from four of eight starts.

There are twenty-five competing countries, all of whom have been placed into one of three groups, A, B and C. Scotland, skipped by reigning EMCC champion and all-round 'good egg' Ewan MacDonald, find themselves in Group A. Ewan’s regular third in the Mixed is Eve Muirhead who, if she sticks in, could become quite good at the game. She, to be very fair, has other more Olympian commitments this season, so is not competing and her place is being taken by none other than Kay Adams. Euan Byers and Karen Barthelemy make up a strong front end.

Mind you, what a draw they have in round one - none other than former champions, Germany, skipped by Andy Kapp. Andy has 'form' at Murrayfield; he is a past winner of the famous Edinburgh International Curling Championships. Their game is on Saturday 14th at 19.30.

There will be bleachers in the rink and seating for about 200 souls. There is plenty of car parking right beside the rink and there are three sessions per day (10.00, 14.30 and 19.00) from the Sunday (15th) through Thursday (19th). You can find a full draw on the website here.

There is nothing more fun than attending an international curling event, so I have some advice: get yourself down to Murrayfield and take in at least a couple of the rounds; better still go for the whole week. It is not that often that Scotland competes in a sport on home ground where there is the definite sniff of a medal on offer.

See you there!

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