STONEYKIRK’S Abi Brown curled her heart out last week in the World Junior Championships in Sochi, Russia, in defence of her world junior crown but had to content herself with silver after a hard-fought final.
But 20-year-old old Abi, who plays lead stones in the rink skipped by Lockerbie’s Hannah Fleming, went down fighting when her team lost their title 5-6 after an extra end to the Russian junior ladies.
The Russians came from behind after going 3-1 down to the Scots. The home team took a two in the fifth and eighth to go two shots up, but the gutsy Scots fought back with a game-levelling two in the tenth to take the final into the extra end, but without a last stone. They did all they could and lay shot when all the Scottish stones had been played but the Russian fourth player made no mistake with a nerveless nose hit to win.
Fifth player on the team was Vicky Wright from Portpartick who was delighted with her silver medal. Vicky said: “The whole experience was just brilliant. Once we got over the disappointment of losing the final we realised what an amazing achievement it was. The girls played fantastic all week but just didn’t play well enough to win the final. “
Returning from the juniors with a gold medal was Stranraer junior curler Hamilton McMillan. Twenty-year-old Hamilton travelled to Sochi as the fifth player for the men’s junior team, skipped by Kyle Smith from Perth, who became World Junior Curling Champions after a 6-2 win over the new kids on the curling block – Russia. The Scots were the stand-out team all week, losing only one game – to Russia – at the round-robin stage.
Hamilton said: “I am so proud of the team, they were phenomenal. Although I went as fifth man I got a game which made the gold medal all the more special as I feel I contributed to winning the world championships and it was my last year in juniors. We played solid all week and got our bad game out of the way against Russia in the round-robin stage.”
The curling rink in Sochi will stage the Olympic curling competition next year.
Tomorrow sees the start of the Ladies World Curling Championships in Riga, Latvia. One of the hot favourites to take the title will be last year’s silver medallists – Scotland. That team includes Stranraer curler Vicki Adams, who plays second stone in the team skipped by Eve Muirhead. The girls will need to be at the top of their game from the very first stone as they meet the recently crowned Canadian champions, Rachel Homan’s rink from Ontario, in the first draw. If the form on paper works out these two teams could well contest the final next Sunday, March 24.
Twenty-three-year old Vicki spoke to The Galloway Gazette from the airport on Wednesday morning as the team prepared to fly out to Riga.
She said: “We are looking forward to it as we have not had any competitions to play since we won the Scottish so it’s just been a lot of gym work and on the ice every day. We will have to be at the top of our game against the Canadians. We have played them a couple of times before and the score is one-one!”
Stranraer Wheelchair Curling Club
The members of Stranraer Wheelchair Curling Club gathered at the ice rink in the North West Castle recently to receive the gift of a cheque from Ewan Sheriffs. The money was raised by Ewan at a recent clay pigeon shoot and the sum of £187.20 was gratefully received by the curlers.
Friday evening, March 1, saw the final of the Henry Trophy Competition in the curling rink at the North West Castle Hotel, Stranraer. This large, popular competition had 64 players drawn into 16 teams, then four sections of four teams each playing a round-robin league to decide which four section winners would play off in the semi-finals.
As it transpired, the winning teams in the sections were those of Danny Hair, Peter J D Wilson, Ian Kirkpatrick and Neil Topping. The Topping/Kirkpatrick clash saw a close game going to the ninth and final end. Topping led seven shots to six after the eighth but held the hammer (last stone) in the final end. The Kirkpatrick rink could not make a steal and Topping scored one on the end to take the game eight shots to six.
In the second semi-final, P J D Wilson’s team had an easier run than the first and took a six-shot win at 9-3 in eight ends after the Hair rink could not maintain an early momentum.
The final was a really excellently played contest, swinging one way after another. The Topping team started with a two. Wilson got a single back at end two. The third end was blanked. At number four end Wilson peeled the scores at two each. Topping got a one on the fifth to lead three to two, but Wilson scored two on the sixth to go to a one-shot lead, four to three. A big three on the seventh saw Topping’s rink jump into the lead again and put the pressure on the Wilson foursome.
Wilson got one at the eighth but Topping negated that with one himself at the ninth. The tenth and last end saw Wilson with a hammer needing two shots at five to seven down to take the game into an extra end. Neil Topping’s team, however, restricted the opposition to a single win to give them a one shot victory at seven to six to take the game and championship. The presentation saw sponsor Malcolm Henry handing the Henry Cup to the winning team of Neil Topping and his rink along with prizes for both winners and runners-up.
The winners: Neil Topping (skip); Hugh Templeton (third); Margaret Benson (second); Callum McQuillan (lead).
Runners-up: Peter J D Wilson (skip); Willie Hurcomb (third); Peter Cochran (second); Scott Patterson (lead).