Lochans lass Vicki Adams added European curling gold to her tally of medals last weekend when playing second in the Scottish rink that aniliated Sweden, the reining European champions, 8-2 in the final.
It was double joy for the Adams family as sister Kay was also part of the winning team.
The Le Gruyere European Championships was played out over ten days in the carnaverous Megasports Arena in Moscow.
The Scottish ladies team of Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, Claire Hamilton, with alternate Kay Adams went through the round robin stages on a seven wins two loss record. That qulaified them for the final stages. Under the page play-off system they won the 3v4 tie versus Russia 9-6 to then meet the losers of the 1v2 game, Denmark. After they were dispatched 10-2 the girls then faced title holders Sweden.
The two skips met in last year’s final in Champery but this the Scotland skip had a new team behind her. The defeat in last year’s final did not sit well with the ultra-competitive Muirhead who regarded her silver medal as a failure.
From the first stone Eve and the Scots started to control the game and with last stone at the first end, Maria Prytz, throwing last stones for Sweden, had a simple shot to blank the end but was wide and it was a steal of one to Scotland.
Second end and another mistake by Sweden with the last stone with Prytz hitting against two, and running out, for another steal to the Scots. The third end was blanked.
In the fourth, Scotland lay three. Sweden came up short with their draw to lie only third shot and it was another steal of two shots for Muirhead who now led 4-0.
The fifth saw further disaster for Sweden as Scotland were again lying three shots as Sweden played a draw which was heavy from the time it left the hand, and it finished at the back of the house. At the break it was 7-0 for Scotland and surely that gold medal was becoming a reality.
In the sixth and seventh the two skips hit and lay for singles. Scotland lead 8-1.
It was handshakes after the eighth when Sweden hit for a single and conceded, the score at 8-2. The title, the trophy and the gold medal was coming home to Scotland.
After the game Eve said: “This is the one I really wanted badly after last year. The girls played well and we got better all week. We were confident going into the game and I felt we controlled the game. It is a young team and one which I hope can build on this experience.”
At the Scottish Parliament earlier thsi week, SNP MSP for the South of Scotland Dr Aileen McLeod said: “I wanted to recognise the Scottish team’s achievement, and also highlight the contribution made by the South of Scotland, with three of the five team members coming from Dumfries & Galloway.
“I hope their success will inspire other people locally to take up the sport, and I wish all of the team the very best for their future success.”
In the B Divison, Stranraer curler Neil Fyfe, playing lead for Ireland, came agonising close to reaching the A League.
After finishing top of their group on a six win one defeat record the Irish team of Robin Gray, Johnjo Kenny, Bill Gray and Neil faced Hungary in the game that would take the winner straight to the A League.
Hungary were 3-0 up after three ends but a well worked two by the Irish at the fourth was a harbinger of the excitment to follow. By the half way stage the score was a tight three all. The Hungarians were looking strong but the Irish were begining to find their best game. Towards the business end of the match it was the Irish who, to use a boxing cliche, had the Hungarians on the ropes.
In the seventh end, errors by Hungary let Ireland steal a one and in the eighth end Hungary had to tap up against four to save the game. But by this time the clocks were running down and Ireland allowed Hungary to steal a single in a ninth end that Ireland always looked like winning. By the start of the tenth both teams had around three minutes on the clock but with Ireland having to throw guards their clock ran down faster. When the skips stones came to be played, Ireland had mere seconds left to winkle out a match winning two to take them to the A League. Before Ireland’s final throw, the Hungarian’s had shot stone on the four foot directly covering an Irish stone lying four feet behind.
In a dramatic climax, nerves were jangling on and off the ice as only 21 seconds were left showing on the clock.
What follows next is subject to debate. The Irish skip, Robin Gray, called a time out, which should have allowed an extra 40 seconds to prepare for the shot, but, prior to the 40 seconds expiring, the Irish time clock suddenly restarted. Noting that this had happened, the Irish skip hurried to play a gentle weight tap-back on the Hungarian stone.
The electronic clock behind the sheet had run down to five seconds by the time the shot was played. Unfortunately for Ireland, instead of chipping the stone away from the centre line, the stone drew half an inch too far, jamming the Hungarian shot on the backstopping Irish stone, leaving the Hungarians celebrating the steal of one and the game.
This event had a significant effect of the team afterwards and they lost their second bite at the A league cherry when losing their semi final agasint Russia the following morning. In the subsequent bronze medal game against England, the team threw away a solid 4-1 lead at half-time to lose 8-4.
The Irish ladies team, including the Gazette’s own Louise Kerr, were relegated to the C Divison for the second year running after winning only one game.