Ireland’s Curling team are this week in Erzurum, Turkey for the European Mixed Curling Championships, taking place at the Milli Piyango Curling Arena.
Our squad comprises – Robin Gray (skip); Louise Kerr (third); Johnjo Kenny (second); and Hazel Gormley-Leahy (lead).
Not familiar with Erzurum? It is the city with the highest altitude in Turkey with the plateau on which it is located, the mountain range that surrounds it and its hill stations. The provinces of Artvin and Rize are on the North of Erzurum, Bayburt, and Erzincan are to the west, Bingöl and Muş on to the south and Ağrı and Kars are on the east of Erzurum which is located within the Eastern Anatolia Region.
One of Turkey’s oldest cities, Erzurum has been an important place of residence and trade ever since the Middle Ages connecting the Iranian, Indian and the Middle Asian trade to the Mediterranean countries. The Caucasian road coming through Tiflis-Kars and the Northern Iran road going through Tabriz-Doğubeyazıt;and the roads that lead to Diyarbakir-Iraq-Syria-Persian Gulf and to the Mediterranean coast through Sivas and the roads that go to Ankara-Istanbul and Ankara-İzmir through Sivas all intersect here.
So how are the Irish team preparing for this first ever venture in the European Mixed Curling Championships? Team member and ‘Galloway Gazette’ journalist Louise Kerr sent this dispatch from Erzurum on Sunday night:
“The Irish team got onto the ice today at the stadium in Erzurum for a practice session. This is certainly an interesting place. Like a scene out of a Star Wars movie.
Not only are we having to cope with the height of the city at 5,000 feet up but the flamin’ hotel is 3,000 feet higher still.! Oxygen cylinders could be on the shopping list – if we could find a shop!”
The Irish team, sponsored again by Albert Bartlett, competes in the “Red Group” and first up on Monday afternoon is Slovenia represented by skip Gregor Verbinc, Third Valentina Jurinic, with Jost Lajovec (second) and Lead, Nadja Pipan.
A tough opener here for the experienced Irish side against the Slovenians.
Scotland, with Eve Muirhead in their team , will be one of the favourites whilst England opened their campaign on Sunday night with a comprehensive 7:3 win over the Netherlands.
SportsNewsIreland will bring you the latest news of the Irish team , from Erzurum throughout the tournament.