Following our final game in the International Gathering in March this year, some of us were having a chat over a beer with the guys from Curling Lausanne Olympique. Bernard, Alex, Dominic and Urs had competed in the Gathering seven times, and they suggested it was about time that the Scots reciprocated and made a visit to Switzerland. They explained that Lausanne held a competition in November each year, the “Memorial Charles Schenkel”, so after a few more beers, the Ramsays, Andersons, Carrs and Hopes were committed to the cause.
We flew from Edinburgh to Geneva very early on Friday 10th November and after a short delay, whilst we waited for Mrs Carr to be released from custody by Swiss Customs, we were met by Bernard, Dominic and Urs who very kindly drove us to our hotel in Lausanne. The remainder of Friday was spent site-seeing around the city and consuming a few libations, the standard procedure for honed athletes preparing for serious competition. (Note: G+T’s approx £14 a pop!).
The Lausanne Curling Hall is located in a fabulous position directly on the shore of Lake Geneva, one of the largest lakes in western Europe. The 5-sheet curling hall is on the second floor of the building and, incredibly, the walls on two sides are glazed from floor to ceiling, offering wonderful views over the harbour and the lake to the snow-capped Alps in the distance.
Twenty teams entered the competition, which was divided into two sections of ten teams in each. Penicuik 1, (Andersons and Hopes), kicked off in Section 1 at 8.00 a.m. on Saturday followed by Penicuik 2, (Ramsays and Carrs), in Section 2 at 10.00 a.m. The Lausanne President, Beatrice Meier, welcomed everyone to Lausanne and gave a special, warm welcome to the Penicuik Club members for making their way to Switzerland. She explained that the originator of the Schenkel system for curling was her grandfather, Charles Schenkel, and the competition was in his memory.
All teams played three games on Saturday and, following a Schenkel calculation of the results, two new sections were created for the Sunday session; unfortunately both Penicuik rinks ended up in Section 2. Sunday’s play involved two games and not surprisingly, having enjoyed a particularly ‘sociable’ Saturday evening, the Penicuik rinks played each other for bottom spot in the final game! No matter, our hosts were extremely good company and fun was the order of the day. Every rink we played were incredibly friendly and every rink won a prize! Our own president, Chris, thanked Beatrice and the curlers of Lausanne for their generous hospitality, and encouraged them to make the trip to Edinburgh for the International Curlers Gathering at some time in the future.
Following the presentation of prizes we spent an interesting half hour being hugely entertained by the jovial Lausanne iceman, Uli Sommer. Uli knows Scotland, it’s international curlers, and it’s characters well and, as well as being a very good curler and international referee, he enjoys a dram so he fitted well in to the Penicuik company.
On Sunday evening, the Penicuik party were picked up at their hotel by Bernard and his wife Elaine, Urs and his wife Sylvia, Alex, and Dominic, and transported to the Restaurant Le Chalet Suisse, where we had lots of fondue, cherries in kirsch, ice cream, and Swiss wine; a wonderful way to finish a great weekend with very good friends.
Over the years, rinks from Penicuik Curling Club have flown the flag in Latvia, Denmark, Sweden, and Switzerland (outdoors). We can now add Switzerland (indoors) to that list. Each time, new friendships are born and old friendships renewed. Each time, the brother and sisterhood of curling never ceases to amaze those involved. This time was no exception and we thank the members of Curling Lausanne Olympique for making us so welcome.
(A selection of photographs can be viewed on the Gallery page)