European Mixed Curling Championships

England was represented at the European Mixed Curling Championships 2014 by Ben Fowler (skip), Lorna Retig (third), Nigel Patrick (second) and Anna Fowler (lead). The competition ran 13th-20th September 2014 at Taarnby Curling Club in Copenhagen, Denmark.

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Lorna Retig holds the brush for Ben Fowler’s shot

Team England’s first game was against Russia. Often a tough, big hitting nation of curlers, these Russians did not disappoint and were throwing silly-weight hits from the pre-game practice. As the game started, they showed that they were not a 1D team and could draw quite well too. Unfortunately team England were still sleeping (or similar) and it took until the 5th end to get the first point of the championship on the scoreboard. The game ended 6-2 to Russia, and considering their overall final position, actually this was not an embarrassing result. However, team England were quite confused at how the result still stood as practically every stone Russia played was released over the hogline – yes, we also thought that this was a fundamental rule of curling.

England’s next game was against Slovakia who seemed a relatively inexperienced side. Unfortunately due to a slow first half, the game was tied 5-5 going in to the final end. Without the hammer, the England team played a perfect end but Misun, the Slovakian skip played two excellent run backs to score a one in the final end. The final score was 6-5 Slovakia. A very disappointing loss against a beatable opposition.

Up next was Latvia. A team who had close games with both Slovakia and Scotland in the first two games, however, a clinical game from team England meant that the Latvians were well and truly beaten by the sixth end. This meant the team were able to watch the end of the other games whilst scoffing Danish pastries!

Team England next came up against Poland, who had also given scares to some of the big teams. England were one up going into the final end without hammer and a well-played final end meant the Polish skip had a very tough shot to take the game to an extra end. The pressure was obviously too much and he cemented team England’s second win leaving them on a 2-2 win record.

Game number 5 was the one everyone was waiting for – England vs Scotland. What more of an apt time to stage an England/Scotland playdown could there be than this week? It happens to be the week that #Scotlanddecides on whether they dissolve a 307 year union. A split would actually raise some very interesting questions about the future of British curling… but that’s a different issue!

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The United Kingdom of curling

So, team England were up at 5.30am for Danish bacon and coffee and on the ice ready for the game at 7.30am. A close first half meant that with a half time score of 2-2, there was nothing between the two teams. After the 4th end break, Scotland had a chance to draw for a three, but a pickup on Kyle Smith’s last stone meant they took a two. The following end, Ben Fowler had a chance to put a one on the board for team England, but yet another pickup meant the stone stopped short and Scotland stole an unexpected two points. This meant that Scotland were four points up but some slack clearing meant England took two back in the seventh end bringing the score to 6-4 Scotland. Stealing two points against the hammer in the final end against three world champions was in fact asking a bit too much and the Scots ran the English out of stones. The final score was 6-4 to Scotland and team England and team Scotland had a photo together to show we’re all friends really despite all this union split disaster business.

Frustrated by outplaying the Scots but still coming away with a loss was potentially not the best mind-set to embark on a game against the Czechs. However, a few hours and more Danish pastries later, that’s exactly what team England were expected to do. With points exchanged only one at a time, the game was 4-3 going into the final end against the hammer. Two perfectly placed guards and two poor tick-shot attempts later and England were looking in a brilliant position to look for a steal to take it to the extra end. A third guard was added to the pile by second Nigel Patrick, but much to team England’s dismay, Nigel’s opposite number then proceeded to remove all three guards and his shooter leaving absolutely nothing in play. The steal was then looking much more unlikely and so it was, the game ended at 4-3 as the steady Czech skip split out our counter with his final stone.

So into the final game team England went, with only two wins despite each match hard fought and close. Perhaps they could clinch a third win from Switzerland skipped by two time world mixed doubles champion Martin Rios… The game took a turn for the worse in the third end when Ben Fowler tanked his last stone through leaving Martin a draw for four, which he managed without too much trouble. It seemed pretty much game over, or at least it should have been, until Martin threw a dodgy hit to leave Ben Fowler an easy draw for three, bringing the 6th end score to 7-5. Coming a little too late, the three points seemed a little futile as the Swiss then took a two in the 7th causing England to concede before playing the 8th end. The final score was 9-5 to Switzerland – England’s worst defeat of the competition.

Team England did not have enough wins to get out of the group stages at the championships but Scotland, Russia and Switzerland proceeded from Group B to join Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Hungary, Finland and Italy in the playoffs. The European Mixed Championship medallists were Sweden (gold), Norway (silver), Switzerland (bronze) and the Scottish side narrowly missed out in 4th place. Congratulations!

Overall team England finished 5th in their group of eight and in comparison to other 5th place teams their DSC was the second best. John Brown believes that this means England’s final ranking is 14th out of 25.

You can see some of the competition photos on the event Facebook page.

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