The first Goldline Scottish Curling Tour event of the season took place this weekend, with Team Bryce claiming the Braehead Open title.
Elsewhere, the new Team Hamilton competed at the Colonial Square Ladies Classic in Saskatoon, Canada, and fell just short of a quarter-final spot.
The Braehead Open involved 22 teams in two sections, playing three pool matches ahead of the last 16.
The rinks making the quarter-finals were Teams Bryce, Carson Gray, Hardie, Hare, Ireland, Marshall and Woolston.
Bryce and Hare met in the final, which was 3-3 after five ends, but after Hare scored two, Bryce claimed three, meaning Bryce went into the final end 6-5 up but without hammer.
They managed to force the error, though, stealing one for a 7-5 win – and added to the Tallinn International they won earlier in the month, that’s two wins from two events for Team Bryce (Cameron Bryce, Ross Whyte, Robin Brydone, Euan Kyle).
The new-look Team Hamilton (Claire Hamilton, Gina Aitken, Rachael Halliday, Rachel Hannen) were the latest Scottish rink to head across to Canada – for the Colonial Square Ladies Classic in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
In a triple knockout format, they began with a 7-6 loss to Flaxey to slip onto the A-Road, but wins over Eberle and Fleming set up a B-Road final with Jennifer Jones’ rink.
The Olympic champions won that encounter, and Hamilton’s campaign was ended in the C-Road final, as they lost to Holland, just one match short of a quarter-final place.
Team Muirhead continued their strong start to the season by picking up the HDF Insurance Shoot-out title in Edmonton, while three more Scottish rinks made the playoffs at the AMJ Campbell Shorty Jenkins Classic in Cornwall, Ontario.
Teams Drummond, Fleming and Smith performed well against a class field, only to fall short in the knockout stages.
The semi-finals had been the limit for Team Muirhead (Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, Lauren Gray, Kelly Schafer) in their first event of the season, the GSOC Tour Challenge, and they continued that fine form into the HDF Insurance Shoot-out.
Wins against Teams Scott, Robertson, Kleibrink and Ramsay, before a loss to Team Wang of China, sent them safely into the quarter-finals, where they defeated Team Rocque 8-4.
The semi-finals brought a 5-3 victory over Robertson, which set up a final against Team Hasselborg of Sweden – the rink which had knocked them out at the Tour Challenge.
After the teams traded twos, Hasselborg moved 5-2 ahead after seven ends, only for Muirhead to score three in the eighth and then steal two in the extra end to win 7-5 and claim the title.
It’s been an excellent start from the Muirhead rink – can they keep it up in their big Olympic year?
At the AMJ Campbell Shorty Jenkins Classic, meanwhile, Teams Drummond and Smith took part in the men’s event, with Team Fleming on the women’s side.
Drummond (Greg Drummond, Ross Paterson, Glen Muirhead, Michael Goodfellow) and Smith (Kyle Smith, Thomas Muirhead, Kyle Waddell, Cammy Smith) were drawn in the same pool, and Smith won their head-to-head 5-3.
Both sat on W2 L2 records going into the final pool matches, where Smith beat Howard 6-5, and Drummond overcame world champions Gushue 4-3 after an extra end – Smith having also beaten Gushue to help them progress to the playoffs.
The quarter-finals saw Smith bow out, beaten 6-5 by Walstad of Norway, but Drummond made the last four by defeating Robillard 8-6.
They could not get past Olympic champions Jacobs in their semi-final however, losing 6-3, with Jacobs going on to beat McEwen 3-1 in the final.
Still, with two wins over Gushue and runs to the playoffs, it had been a very positive event for the Scots.
The same goes for Team Fleming (Hannah Fleming, Jen Dodds, Alice Spence, Vicky Wright), who qualified for the women’s playoffs thanks to wins over Tirinzoni, Arsenault and Belisle.
They lost 8-6 to Duncan in the quarter-finals, giving up a steal of two in the eighth, as Team Sinclair of the USA ultimately took the title, but for Fleming to make the playoffs when the likes of Flaxey and Tirinzoni did not is also encouraging.
Finally, the first Asham Under-21 Slam of the season took place this weekend – the Greenacres Junior Masters.
Teams Baird, Carson, Craik and Whyte qualified for the semi-finals on the men’s side, with Teams Bryce, Davie, Farmer and Morrison coming through on the women’s.
The last four saw Baird beat Carson and Whyte beat Craik, while Davie beat Morrison and Farmer defeated Bryce.
The men’s final brought victory for Whyte (Ross Whyte, Robin Brydone, Fraser Kingan, Euan Kyle), who stole one in the extra end to win 7-6.
And the women’s final was won by Davie (Lisa Davie, Kirsty Barr, Anna Skuse, Emma Barr), 7-5 over Farmer.
The eventual women’s champions were Team Sweeting (Tier 1) and Team Einarson (Tier 2).
Struggles on men’s side
Things were not quite so promising for Teams Smith (Kyle Smith, Thomas Muirhead, Kyle Waddell, Cammy Smith) and Drummond (Greg Drummond, Ross Paterson, Gregor Cannon, Michael Goodfellow) on the men’s side at the Tour Challenge.
There’s plenty of work for Smith to do ahead of the Olympics, underlined by four defeats – to McCormick, Edin, Simmons and Epping – in their Tier 1 pool.
In Tier 2, Drummond managed to go one better than at last week’s Oakville Tankard by winning a game (against Jacobson), but losses to Brown, Gunnlaugson and Lyburn ended their challenge early.
The men’s winners were Team Gushue (Tier 1) and Team Gunnlaugson (Tier 2).
Mouat at the double
Away from the Grand Slam, but still in Canada, Teams Brewster (Tom Brewster, Duncan Menzies, Scott Andrews, Alasdair Schreiber) and Mouat (Bruce Mouat, Grant Hardie, Bobby Lammie, Hammy McMillan) took part in the Biosteel Oakville Fall Classic.
Brewster lost their first three pool games (to Mabergs, Kim and Steski), which meant that their victory over Zou was only a consolation.
Mouat, by contrast, cruised through the group stage, beating Retornaz, Baumann, Maus and Dickie to book their passage to the quarter-finals.
Further wins against Horgan (6-5) and Schwaller (8-7, stealing one in an extra end) sent them into the final, where they faced Chang-Min Kim of Korea.
It was a tight match, with only singles scored as it went to an extra end, but Mouat held hammer and scored their one to win 4-3.
That’s two events entered and two titles gained for Team Mouat to start the season, and they’re yet to lose a single match (played 14, won 14).
It’s going to take a good team to stop these boys if they keep this up!
That didn’t take long, did it? One week, two events, two Scottish wins in World Curling Tour events.
We’re barely into September, but a slightly altered Team Bryce and a rather more different Team Mouat have already secured their first titles, in Tallinn and Oakville, respectively.
With our first Grand Slam of the season just around the corner, here’s hoping that Scottish curling can carry this initial form further into the season.
Bryce rise to the challenge
While four Scottish teams headed west to Canada, Team Bryce (Cameron Bryce, Ross Whyte, Robin Brydone, Euan Kyle) went east to Estonia, for the Tallinn Challenger.
They cruised through the round robin stage, finishing with four wins (against Teams Truksans, Lill, Svensgaard and Jungen) and no defeats.
They faced Team Eremin (Russia) in the last four, and a 7-3 win put them into the final against Team Gulbis of Latvia.
Again Bryce were just too strong for their opponents, scoring three in end three and stealing two in the fourth on their way to a 7-2 victory and the Tallinn Challenger title.
Skip Cameron Bryce told British Curling: “The whole team played really well, although we are still learning with our change of line-up for the season.”
The team now return to the new National Curling Academy, to prepare for the Braehead Open (September 22-24).
Mouat takes Tankard triumph
Teams Brewster, Drummond, Mouat and Smith ensured Scotland was well represented at the Stu Sells Oakville Tankard in Ontario, but it was Mouat (Bruce Mouat, Grant Hardie, Bobby Lammie, Hammy McMillan) who finished top of the pile.
I said in my season preview that I was excited to see what these boys could do on tour this season… it looks like I have my answer already.
Things were not so rosy for Team Drummond, though, as they lost to Mouat, McCormick and Deruelle to bow out early.
It’s early days for this rink, certainly, but they will be hoping for more at next week’s GSOC Tour Challenge (Tier 2).
Team Brewster have also rung the changes, and they had something of a rollercoaster in Oakville – a defeat to Fournier to drop onto the B-Road, wins over Corbett and Kim, a loss to Clark, victory over Stjerne, and finally a defeat to McCormick to end their involvement.
Team Smith, by contrast, have kept the same roster (only adding Glen Muirhead as alternate ahead of the Olympics), and they made the quarter-finals in Oakville.
Not that it was a smooth journey. Beaten by Kim first up, they then saw off Zou and Horgan, lost to Simmons to land on the C-Road, but then overcame Fournier and Gunnlaugson to make the playoffs.
Those quarter-finals pitted them against Mouat, who had sailed into the last eight thanks to four straight wins – against Ainsley, Drummond, Horgan and Clark.
Mouat dominated the all-Scottish meeting, taking three in end one, then a steal, and then twos in ends four and six to win it 8-3.
Mouat’s semi-final was tighter, but one in end eight was enough to see off Horgan, setting up a final against Kim of Korea.
The Korean rink scored three in end four to lead 3-1, but twos in ends five and seven, plus a steal in the eighth, gave Mouat a 6-4 victory – making it W7 L0 at the event.
For this team to have gelled this quickly is highly impressive, especially given the quality of the other teams on show.
So that’s $8,000 in the bank for Mouat already; their next event is the Oakville OCT Fall Classic (alongside Brewster) – can they maintain their hot streak?
THE CHOSEN ONES: Great Britain’s men’s and women’s curlers for Pyeongchang 2018 (Team Muirhead and Team Smith). Pic: British Curling/Graeme Hart
Who said anything about a quiet summer break?
There have been some huge changes in the landscape of Scottish curling over the last few months.
There’s the personnel changes, of course.
David Murdoch’s playing days are over, with one of the stalwarts of the Scottish game retiring from competitive curling and switching to coaching.
The subsequent reshuffles have thrown up some intriguing team combinations for the new season.
Murdoch’s third Greg Drummond has moved up to skip, piloting a rink which also consists of Ross Paterson, Gregor Cannon and Michael Goodfellow.
Heading in the opposite direction to Paterson is Scott Andrews, who joins an all-new Team Brewster, with Tom Brewster also welcoming Duncan Menzies and Alasdair Schreiber to his quartet.
Team Bryce have added Ross Whyte to their roster, while Bruce Mouat’s new rink has a bit of a rockstar look to it.
Grant Hardie, Bobby Lammie and Hammy McMillan are all on board – it’s a team packed with talent, so I’m excited to see what they can do in Scotland and on tour this year.
There are changes on the women’s side too, notably Sochi 2014 medallist Claire Hamilton coming into skip Gina Aitken’s team – Aitken moving to third in place of Rowena Kerr.
Some teams have stuck with the same formula of course, including the rinks selected to represent Great Britain at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang (oh yes, it’s an Olympic year!) – Team Muirhead and Team Smith.
There have of course been changes outside of the teams themselves, including the opening of the National Curling Academy in Stirling, which will hopefully see Scotland/Britain keep up with the world’s top – and emerging – curling nations.
The Curling Champions Tour and World Curling Tour have merged, and – closer to home – it’s good news to see the Scottish Curling Tour expand and gain a swanky new website.
Scotland (Aberdeen to be exact) will host the 2018 World Junior Championships, which can hopefully build on the interest generated by the Olympics (the countdown to #lovecurling trending again is underway…) the month before.
The Olympics have pulling power that individual winter sports can only dream of, so it’s vital that curling (Scottish curling in particular) uses its events this year to draw more fans, and maybe the next generation of players, to the game.
This weekend sees things move up a gear. The first Grand Slam event of the season is on the horizon – the Tour Challenge (Tiers 1 and 2), on September 5-10 – and so there are four Scottish rinks over in Canada.
Victory in Oakville (in the Oakville OCT Fall Classic) was one of the highlights in an impressively consistent (also consistently impressive) season which saw them get the nod for the Olympics.
How will they handle that extra pressure as Pyeonchang approaches? They’re still a young team, but they’ve been together for a long time and they know how to beat the world’s best.
Eve Muirhead has described an Olympic appearance (and medal) as putting a target on your back, and we’ll get our first chance to see the Team GB women at the Tour Challenge in Regina, where Team Fleming will also compete.
Excited yet? You should be. The changes over the summer simply add another dynamic to what promises to be a thrilling Olympic season.
2017 has arrived and, with the Christmas break over, the curling competition calendar fills up again.
A Grand Slam, the Scottish Juniors Championship and two major events on Scottish soil – the Perth Masters and Glynhill Ladies International – are excellent appetisers for the Scottish Championships in February.
Here’s a guide to what’s coming up…
Meridian Canadian Open (Grand Slam of Curling) January 3-8, North Battleford, Saskatchewan (Canada)
Team Smith are the sole Scots competing in the latest stop on the Grand Slam tour. They had an excellent first half of the season, and this is another chance for the young team to test themselves against the world’s best – Edin, Epping (the holders), Gushue, Jacobs, Koe et al – in a triple knockout format. Teams Hasselborg, Homan (the reigning champs), Jones, Sidorova and Tirinzoni are among those competing in the women’s section. Follow the competition here.
World Junior-B Curling Championships 2017 (World Curling Federation) January 3-10, Oestersund (Sweden) Team Jackson, having been relegated to the Junior B-Division last season, have the chance to redeem themselves by getting Scotland back up to the top table of junior women’s curling. Placed in a group with the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Norway, Romania and Spain, they will hope to make the knockout stages, with the top three qualifying for WJCC 2017 in Gangneung, Korea, next month. Selected games are being shown on World Curling TV, and you can follow scores here.
Mercure Perth Masters (Curling Champions Tour) January 5-8, Perth
Thirty-two men’s rinks – coming in from across the world, from China to Switzerland – descend on Perth for this Curling Champions Tour event, which is in a triple knockout format. Ten of those 32 are Scottish, including Teams Brewster, Bryce, Hardie, Mouat and Murdoch. There’s no guarantee of a home victory, mind you, especially when the likes of Teams De Cruz (Switzerland), Kauste (Finland), Morozumi (Japan) and last year’s finalists Ulsrud (Norway) are in town. Scores can be found here and live streaming here.
Scottish Curling Senior Men’s Championship qualifiers (Royal Caledonian Curling Club) January 6-8, Ayr and Forfar
Curlers aged over 50 take to the ice in Ayr and Forfar aiming to qualify for the Senior Championships in February – the winners of which will represent Scotland at Worlds in Lethbridge, Canada, in April. In these men’s qualifiers the holders, skipped by Gordon Muirhead, are back again to defend their title. Follow the scores here and here.
Scottish Junior Curling Club Challenge (Royal Caledonian Curling Club) January 7-8, Murrayfield
An event open to junior curling clubs, it consists of three divisions, with clubs being promoted and relegated between divisions depending on their performance. Each club entry is represented by two teams – they must field a minimum of two females, and the club entry takes a combined score from the results of their teams. Follow the event here.
Bernese Ladies Cup (Curling Champions Tour) January 12-15, Bern (Switzerland)
Bern welcomes 32 women’s rinks – including three from Scotland – for a triple knockout competition. The Scots all have Swiss opposition up first – Team Fleming have been drawn against Keiser, Team Muirhead versus Mathis and Team Smith with Hegner. Other rinks to look out for include Teams Flaxey (Canada), Moiseeva (Russia), Sigfridsson (Sweden), Tirinzoni (the defending champions, of Switzerland) and Wang (China). Follow scores from this tournament here.
Dutch Masters Mixed Doubles (Curling Champions Tour) January 13-15, Zoetermeer (Netherlands)
Gina Aitken/Bruce Mouat and Judith McCleary/Lee McCleary, Scotland’s premier mixed doubles teams, are among 20 rinks to take part in this competition in the Netherlands. Teams play group matches to decide who’ll make the knockout stages. As well as many of the world’s mixed doubles mainstays, there are duos from England – Anna Fowler/Ben Fowler – and Ireland – Alison Fyfe/Neil Fyfe – involved too. You can keep up to date with the event here, and games will also be live streamed on the Champions Curling Tour YouTube channel.
Scottish Curling Junior Championships (Royal Caledonian Curling Club) January 18-22, Aberdeen
Team Jackson look to retain their junior women’s title and (depending on how they get on at the World Junior-B Championships earlier in the month) go to Worlds. Their main competition looks to be Team K Aitken, but Teams Davie and MacDonald are also in with a shout. There will definitely be a new champion on the junior men’s side though – Team Mouat are aged out, so Teams Bryce and Whyte are the frontrunners for tournament victory and Worlds qualification. Event scores will be shown here.
Ceramtec German Masters (Curling Champions Tour) January 19-22, Hamburg (Germany)
Twenty-four teams, separated into six groups, are in Germany for this men’s competition – including the holders, Team Murdoch. The other Scots participating are Teams Brewster, Mouat and Smith. Their main rivals look to include Teams Bottcher, De Cruz, Stjerne, Ulsrud and Van Dorp. The live scores will be posted here.
Glynhill Ladies International (Curling Champions Tour) January 19-22, Braehead There are also 24 teams registered for what is becoming another major event in Scotland, this time for the women. Teams G Aitken, Fleming, Muirhead and Smith fly the flag for Scotland in Braehead, while reigning champions Team Tirinzoni return. Teams Feltscher, Kubeskova, Moiseeva, Paetz and Sigfridsson also join the party, which consists of pool stages (four sections) then knockout stages. The event website is here, with live streaming also planned here.
Asham Under 14 Slam – Intu Braehead (Royal Caledonian Curling Club) January 28, Braehead
The second of three events in the U14 Slam series is being held in Braehead, with best of four end games. The previous competition, at Forfar, saw the high road final won by Team Gallacher. For more information on the event as it takes place, see this page.
Four Nations (Royal Caledonian Curling Club) January 28-29, Greenacres
Rinks from across the British Isles descend on Greenacres (Howwood) for the latest Four Nations. Last season it was the Irish who took the triple crown title – which of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales will come top of the pile this time around? The event page is here.
28th Winter Universiade (International University Sports Federation) January 29-February 8, Almaty (Kazakhstan) Finally, we have the World University Winter Games held in Kazakhstan. Curlers to have taken part in this event in just the past few years include Brendan Bottcher, Oskar Eriksson, Hannah Fleming, Anna Sidorova, Anna Sloan and Kyle Smith. This time round it’s Gregor Cannon, Bobby Lammie, Bruce Mouat, Alasdair Schreiber and Derrick Sloan (men’s) and Gina Aitken, Rachael Halliday, Rachel Hannen, Rowena Kerr and Angharad Ward (women’s) who are representing Team Great Britain. The event website is here.
The European Curling Championships are in Braehead this month – what, you hadn’t heard? That’s the really big one, but what else is going on through November? Read on…
CookstownCash (World Curling Tour) Dates: November 3-6
Number of teams: 40 (30 men’s; 10 women’s)
Scottish teams: Team Smith
Last year’s winners: Team De Cruz (Switzerland)
Team Smith take on a host of local rinks in Cookstown, Ontario, as well as big-hitters such as Team Epping, Team Howard and Team De Cruz (defending champions). The competition begins with a pool stage ahead of knockouts – Smith are in Pool D with Teams Bailey, Gordon, Robillard and Ross.
Edinburgh International Curling Championship (Scottish Curling Tour) Dates: November 4-6
Number of teams: 18
Scottish teams: Team Bryce, Team Fraser, Team Hardie, Team MacDonald, Team Mouat
Last year’s winners: Team Hardie
The Goldline Scottish Curling Tour’s third event of the season takes place at Murrayfield Curling in the capital. Hardie look to defend their title against home opposition and some more than capable challengers from abroad – chief among them 2016 World silver medallists Team Stjerne – with entries coming from the Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Norway, Poland, Switzerland and Wales.
Usual suspects on the Scottish circuit Team Bryce and Team Jackson are not taking part in this U21 Slam, which allows the likes of Team Whyte (boys’ side), Team K Aitken and Team MacDonald (girls’) the opportunity to take advantage by gaining vital ranking points.
World Wheelchair-B Curling Championship (World Curling Federation) Dates: November 4-6
Number of teams: 16
Last year’s winners: Norway
Lohja in Finland hosts the Wheelchair-B Championship, where Scotland are represented by 2014 Winter Paralympic bronze medallist Aileen Neilson (skip), Gregor Ewan, Hugh Nibloe, Robert McPherson and Angie Malone (alternate) – and hope to improve on last season’s fifth-place finish. England, skipped by Rosemary Lenton, also compete.
Pacific-Asia Curling Championships (World Curling Federation) Dates: November 5-12
Number of teams: 17 (9 men’s; 8 women’s)
Last year’s winners: Soo Hyuk Kim (Korea); Satsuki Fujisawa (Japan)
With curling’s focus being steadily pulled eastwards both by the strength of Asian teams in world competitions and the location of the 2018 Winter Olympics, this event in Uiseong, South Korea, is one to watch. The women’s rinks of Bingyu Wang (China), Satsuki Fujisawa (Japan) and Kim Eunjung (Korea) make for a fearsome threesome and the competition between them is likely to be fierce. Rui Liu (China) and Yusuke Morozumi (Japan) are among those on the men’s side.
Greenacres hosts the qualifying event for the National Masters Curling Championship, with Scottish curlers over the age of 60 eligible to take part. Thirty rinks in six sections are expected to compete for those qualification spots.
Tour Challenge (Grand Slam of Curling) Dates: November 8-13
Number of teams: 60 (30 men’s; 30 women’s)
Scottish teams: Team Murdoch, Team Smith (tier 1), Team Brewster, Team Mouat (tier 2); Team Fleming (tier 2)
Last year’s winners: Team Koe (tier 1), Team Cotter (tier 2); Team Tirinzoni (tier 1), Team Einarson (tier 2)
Grand Slams are like buses, apparently. Two in very quick succession! After the Masters in Okotoks, Alberta, it’s time for the Tour Challenge in Cranbrook, British Columbia. Teams Murdoch and Smith go in tier 1, where Team Edin will look to make it a Swedish double after taking the Masters. Teams Brewster and Mouat are in tier 2, while Team Fleming compete in women’s tier 2.
Forfar Indoor Sports’ unique competition – the sole Scottish Curling Tour event with a women’s section – returns. Team Mouat won’t be there to defend their title (see above), nor will Team Jackson (see below), so there’ll be two new champions this season.
Karina Aitken and Sophie Jackson’s rinks will battle it out over a best-of-five series to fly the Scottish flag at the World Junior B Curling Championships in January – and hopefully get Scotland promoted to the A-Division for next season.
Team Muirhead warm up for the European Championships with this tournament in Wetzikon, Switzerland. They are joined by Teams Gina Aitken and Hazel Smith, as well as the likes of Teams Feltscher (Switzerland), Nielsen (Denmark) and Sidorova (Russia). There are four pools of six teams, with playoffs on the Sunday.
Greenacres hosts the latest round of the U17 Slam series. Teams Craik, Haswell and Kinnear will once again be expected to challenge for this title and ranking points, with overall winners gaining entry to a World Curling Federation junior curling camp in Germany next year.
Two Scottish pairs travel to Switzerland for this inaugural mixed doubles event, to challenge alongside 30 other teams including Szekeres/Nagy (Hungary), Bryzgalova/Krusheinitcki (Russia) and Perret/Rios (Switzerland). There are qualification matches, playoffs and a consolation cup.
Red Deer Curling Classic (World Curling Tour) Dates: November 18-21
Number of teams: 54 (32 men’s; 22 women’s)
Scottish teams: Team Murdoch, Team Smith; Team Fleming
Last year’s winners: Team Lizmore; Team Rocque
Red Deer, Alberta, hosts this major World Curling Tour event (triple knockout format), with the three Scottish rinks taking part being the losing teams at the European Playdowns last month. Look out for the likes of Teams Bottcher, Koe, Carey and Rocque on the men’s and women’s sides.
European Curling Championships (World Curling Federation) Dates: November 19-26
Number of teams: 46 (26 men’s; 20 women’s)
Scottish teams: Team Brewster; Team Muirhead
Last year’s winners: Team Edin (Sweden); Team Sidorova (Russia)
It’s almost here! Braehead hosts the Europeans, with 46 teams in men’s and women’s A and B-Divisions. Can Team Brewster build on their last performance at Worlds? Will Team Edin reign supreme again (they’re on brilliant form)? Can Team Muirhead go one better than in Esbjerg, with Team Sidorova failing to qualify? Or is it time for Team Hasselborg’s true international arrival? So many questions, so many top curlers – let’s hope they attract big crowds.