Our bus driver for the first half of the tour has been David Kirchstein from Sheboygan Wisconsin. Dave is immensely experienced with this sort of tour and drove the last Scottish tour around the same route in 2007. Boy! Has he had some stories. Top bus driver and all round excellent guy, keeping us well provisioned with stuff and looking after all the loading and unloading of tour gear so we could head off and meet new people. With a nice dry sense of humour, he as offered commentary on the local communities we visited and insights into the views we should have been seeing when it was too foggy to see anything. It has been really well appreciated by all of us.
Once he drops us at Fargo for the flight to Chicago & Detroit, he’ll be able to wend his way home. Sincerely hope you get to do the next tour Dave. They will be in for a treat.
David is playing lead in Clive Thomson’s team Mull. He was joint Co-ordinator of tour gifts and also holds a judicial role. I’m wary of saying too much now about David since he has settled into that role rather too easily and has a keen eye. Whereas that it is a great thing on the ice, other times, it can be troublesome for us tourists. Before his calling to the bar, he was quite open about himself….
“I’m 64 years old and a retired Civil Engineer from Ayr on the Clyde Coast.
I have been married to Lillian since 1974 with two children, Shona and Ian, and one granddaughter Isla. I must mention our collie dog Heather!
I curl with six clubs: Troon Portland (past president and match secretary), Dalmellington Craigengillan (match secretary), Ayr Disnae Virtual (secretary and match secretary), Ayr CC (committee member), Construction South and Straiton. I have been nominated Vice President of Ayr CC. I hold an RCCC level 1 coach qualification.
Ayr Curling Rink is where I do my club curling.
I won the Scottish Gold Cup at Stranraer in 2013, and took an eight-ender at the same curling rink in 2012. I much enjoyed playing in last season’s Scottish Masters.
On tour I hope to play with and against similar minded curlers on the upcoming USA tour, enjoying the social aspects of curling and visiting new places which will surely make our tour a trip of a lifetime and something to remember.
When I’m not curling I am a keen hill walker and dog walker. I am a former rugby player/coach, and continue to support Ayr RFC and Glasgow Warriors.
Russ has been with us since the day we landed in Chicago and has been our courier on the first leg of the tour. His home curling club is Exmoor and whilst we were in that neck of the woods he was responsible for much of the organisation of the tour visit there. He said he’d be able to relax once we got on the road and it would all be a bit easier. WRONG! As a group, we really do need to be taken care of you know. As for looking after the cattle on board – you’ll have read of his problems with Sandy and the Portage Police Department. Nothing more to say here.
Russ made the last tour to Scotland in 2012 and for those who played against that tour, it’s been great to meet up with him again. He knows what is involved with a tour and he has been an immense help to us all, keeping us to the very tight schedule and been great with advice on how to deal with the rigours of touring. When we get to Saint Paul on Thursday 26th, we have a hand over to Bob Chandler for the remainder of the tour. Thanks Russ. You’ve earned a wee rest. See you at the finish line.
The hotel was near the curling rink, so not too early a start. Regular readers of this blog know that the results are on another page. In the morning many of the Scots seemed to be on another planet: we did not do well. Callum Harvey’s Vote of Thanks cheered us all up a bit by telling us that someone who’d seen him on TV wearing his beanie had texted suggesting that he take a break from curling and try modelling as a garden gnome. Good timing Callum, we needed to be cheered up.
Then off by coach to Hibbing where the big industry is iron ore mining. After WW2 the Iron Range area produced a big percentage of the raw material which we in the UK needed to re-build our industries.
Hibbing is a seven-lane rink with a row of pillars between each sheet plus quite an echo – yet more variables for us to get used to. Captain Clive played a Hibbing team which had Jerry Scott, winner of the Silver Broom in 1976 against Bill Muirhead, and Tim Muller coach of the US team at Sochi in 2014. David McIntyre thanked Hibbing for the games and congratulated the Club on having bred so many outstanding curlers over a long period.
Tom Scott, Hibbing CC President welcomed us to the dinner in our honour at the Gentlemen’ Club, and led his colleagues in their own curling song. One of Paul Pustover’s curling jerseys was won in a draw by Albert Middler who is totally made up to have this from a man who played in eight Worlds.
Thanking our most generous hosts for their game, meals, refreshments and
generous gifts, William Paterson told a story using several imaginary and real props, one of which certainly would not be on the list of clothing for a Scots Men’s Tour.
Since Sandy came back to us he has become a bit of a prima-donna, demanding stuff. As with any celebrity on tour, he has a whole list of things. We cannot have a beer but he wants one. He needs his own pizza and when there are important people around he has to get in on the photos.
As if that wasn’t enough, Denis Jorgensen of Curl Mesabi decides to mix things up for us by introducing a heifer to the tour bus. Thought I heard someone said her name was Floppsy. I sure hope they weren’t talking about Sandy’s performance. Gonna be some noisy nights I think for the ‘Keeper of the coos’.
On Tour, Gary is skip of team Jura. I’m sure he won’t mind me saying that at 43 years of age, he is by some margin, the youngest of our squad. That’s a good thing for the rest of us, bringing as he does some very welcome fresh thinking to tricky situations.
“I am part of our family-run bus and coach transport firm with my father and mother. My home is in Glenfarg, rural Perthshire with my wife Jenny, and two young sons Finlay and Max.
I started curling at the age of 15 at school and now curl for Auchterarder and Glenfarg in the Upper Strathearn and Loch Leven Provinces, playing mainly in Kinross and Perth ice rinks.
As Past President of Glenfarg CC and Loch Leven Province I was fortunate enough to curl against the 2012 US tourists. My father, David, was part of the US-bound 2007 Scottish Tour.
I have competed in various national championships over twenty years – the most unique location was on outdoor ice in the Alps at the World Corporate Games in 1996.
I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to join this curling tour and am looking forward to playing in a new continent and meeting new curlers.
My other hobbies include watching sports, in particular golf and football (I am a long-suffering fan of Scotland’s national football team!), cycling and keeping up with jobs on our property – especially those that require power tools.”
Duluth in the morning. We agreed the ice was good and some hardened competition kept us focused on the games.
John Shuster, fresh off a plane, turned up to see the game. It was an honour for us that he was there, and important for us that Sandy, our mascot got his photo taken with this three-times Olympian. Joe Polo, bronze at Sochi 2014, also came to support his countrymen: that’s quite a line-up of big names and an honour to us Scots.
Ninety minutes by coach and we were in Curl Mesabi which serves the quad-cities of Evelith, Gilbert, Mountain Iron and Virginia. Dennis Jorgensen, his family and a battalion of volunteers had everything in place for us including sprigs of white heather on the tables. Moose milk was the tot at stacking-of-brooms: what else would you expect up here!
At each session we were led on to the ice by a pair of the oldest active playing members, the oldest being 93. President Phil Drobnick made the formal welcome at dinner and recalled successful visits by Eve Muirhead, Tom Brewster and other Scots.
Our choir was, frankly, not up to even its recent standard. To counter that we had musical entertainment from two female singers well into the evening. Albert Middler was seen dancing while carefully calculating the number of rotations he’d need to finish where he thought he should.
Continuing the light-hearted theme, Dennis Jorgensen presented a heifer to our mascot Sandy, the Highland bull in the hope that from now on he would be more likely to stay at ‘home’.
This was just one in a succession of great days for our Tour for which we owe so much to our hosts.
Let me introduce you to John who is playing second in Gary Rutherford’s team Jura. It is tempting to tell you loads of stuff about John but he sort of tells it well himself. For the tour, he has taken on the roles of Assistant Secretary and Diarist. Good call – and not bad for a chap of 75. We are assured of a good record of the tour.
“My home is now in Longniddry, East Lothian. I was born and raised in Galloway, South-West Scotland.
I am retired. My main career was as Secretary of The Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland which presents Scotland’s annual national agricultural exhibition, and of related bodies.
I am married to Muriel. We have two sons, John and Alasdair, a daughter Isla, and seven grandchildren.
My ‘local’ curling clubs are Haddington and Aberlady, both in East Lothian. I do my club curling at Murrayfield Curling Rink, Edinburgh.
I am now President of Haddington, Secretary of RCCC Edinburgh Area Committee, and a qualified coach. Formerly on the RCCC Areas Standing Committee, Secretary of East Lothian Province, Aberlady President, and Secretary of the Edinburgh Organising Committee of the RCCC Indoor Grand Match 2015.
2015-16 was my best season so far. With Skip Willie Jamieson we got to the quarter-finals of the Edinburgh International Senior Men’s Championship. I played in two rinks which won RCCC District Medals. For the third time in ten years I was in an Aberlady rink which won the East Lothian Province Bonspiel. I won the pairs competition of two Clubs, and I took four of the five Aberlady Club trophies.
Travelling with my team-mates, making many more good curling friends, and learning how USA curling clubs and rinks are organised will make this tour one of the best bargains of my lifetime.
For leisure and recreation I have been developing and running a large garden, playing outdoor bowls and enjoying music.”
Malcolm is playing third in Alex Dixon’s team Tiree. He is our Choirmaster and Musical Director, although as far as we are concerned, that term ‘musical’ should be taken loosely. I’m hopeful that we will pleasantly surprise him before we head home. Born in Paisley and now living a whole four miles away in Kilbarchan, he tells me. “I am a Chartered Surveyor and worked as a property asset manager in local government for over 30 years. My last post was in Hereford, where I liked to tell the Councillors I was doing missionary work. I am 61 and have been retired for five years now and loving every minute. I have been married to my wife Susan for 37 years. We have three grown up daughters, Fiona, Morven and Eilidh and two grandchildren, Ryan who is six and Emma who was one in October this year.
I started curling over 40 years ago, for Stoddards (the carpet manufacturer, who made the carpets for the Titanic. I’m not sure whether that is good or bad) and Dunlop Curling Club, Ayrshire. When I returned from Hereford, I joined Blythswood Curling Club, Renfrewshire and curl at Greenacres Ice Rink. Former President of Dunlop Curling Club and currently on the Committee at Blythswood Curling Club.
Proudest moments were playing for Scotland in the Four Nations tournaments in 2014 and 2016. Best result was winning the Beefeater Tournament at Stranraer with Blythswood in 2015.
What I’m most looking forward to on tour is getting to know my teammates and having the opportunity to meet the host teams in the US. My other interests are that I sing tenor with Kilbarchan Singers and bass with Kilbarchan Parish Church choir, although not at the same time. I am also an erstwhile supporter of Saint Mirren Football Club.”
Despite the weather (not your fault of course, Wausau) or maybe it was then prospect of getting some sunshine by going four hours north-west, we were on the coach by 7.30 am on Sunday. The on-board kick-start known on Tour a Morning Class, was provided and keeps Bill Arnot one of most popular chums on Tour!
Heading for Duluth, Driver Dave warned us to prepare for a sudden stop if a deer or wolf or wolf crossed the road.
Our mascot “Sandy” arrived in Duluth in the safe hands of Callum Harvey. This proved to be a good omen for his team – and it was as he finished with 15 shots to 2. Good Stuff.
The eight-sheeter, high ceilinged hall is hung with rows of pennants proudly recording the many successes of Duluth Players. Hospitality at the rink was as generous as it was appreciated. Any Scot likely to order a bloody mary before lunch at Duluth should get some practice in at home first! Did you know that at Duluth a skip can order drinks by signalling from the ice sheet with a green card.
We were piped on to the ice and led by four girls who will go to the Minnesota State U-18 playdowns. President of Duluth CC is Linda Christensen who recently toured Scotland with the US Ladies. Linda smiles broadly when she thinks about her tour, which many Scots ladies will remember. Linda hosted all of us to a pizza party at which we met more people who value their Club and our sport.
At the Christensen home John Hodge took the floor to thank our hostess. His speaking notes consisted first of the text he had sent to Janet, his wife, to tell her to look out for him on TV from Duluth -exciting news. Janet replied “I watched your game up to the point you stood the brooms up in a silly carousel. After that I switched back to the serial”. Poor John, after all the good shots you played after that.