Wednesday, March 29, 2006

WMC: Team Profile Murdoch

Scotland is the nation that has perhaps the best claim to the invention of the sport of curling. It fits the track record of the other sports that have come out of the nation. Getting a small ball into a cup hundreds of yards away. Trying to throw a giant timber. Trying to keep your kilt from blowing up in a strong wind. And, trying to get hunks of granite to stop at a specific point after being slid down a sheet of ice.

However, invention has not guaranteed success.

In the Olympic bonspiel, four teams advance out of the round robin to play for medals. Three of them will be successful. The fourth...well... Know the old cliche that second place is first loser? I'd argue that in the Olympics, fourth place is first loser. And looking back to Tornio, the Scottish nation team (playing, as they do for the games, under the flag of Great Britian) went into the semis as part of a pack of three teams that finished a game back from the robin winnning Finns, and ended up losing first to U15, and then to the Pizzaman's upstart team of Yanks.

Murdoch is back. And the team is back under Saint Andrew's Cross, playing for Scotland on the Lowell ice. And probably looking for some revenge, or at least a better finish than they managed in Tornio.

And there ain't no one better to be skipping for them than Murdoch. Coming out of Lockerbie (yes, that Lockerbie) he debuted getting silver at last year's World Championship, took his rink into the semis of a deep field in Torino, and has a lot of success on the European Junior circuit under his belt. Also, at only 27 he's likely to be a force in international curling for at least one or two more Olympic cycles. Though Scotland is one of the tougher places to make a name for yourself curling. With better than 90% of the sheets in Great Britian, there's always going to be someone else looking to take your place.

Backing up Murdoch will be the same quartet that he lead to 4th place in Torino, a sort of dream team culled from Scottish curling clubs. Most countries send pre-established teams to these tournaments, but the Scots decided to try and maximize success the same way the US has in basketball the last few Olympics. Now the team is a little more congealed, and know each others styles even better, it could be a serious force of nature in Lowell.

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