I'm thinking about wheelchair curling this afternoon for two reasons. Firstly, the Kinross Wheelchair Curling International goes ahead this week, with the first games tomorrow (Tuesday) evening.
Seven teams will take part, from Switzerland, Norway, Wales, and four Scottish squads skipped by Aileen Neilson, Rosemary Lenton, Jim Elliot and Mo Simpson.
Archie Bogie, on the organising committee, writes, "We have not got such a big international field this year probably due to the post Olympic dip in funding, but I'm sure it will still be an excellent competition. We see the return of the Norway coach Thoralf Hognestad after a year out and a changed Swiss team. I'm also pleased to see that Wales is still trying to keep wheechair curling together in their patch." I agree with that Archie. I hope I'll be able to get up to the Green Hotel this week to see some of the action. The competition concludes on Thursday.
The other wheelchair curling news is from the Scottish Wheelchair Curling Association with a heads-up on the new Shotmaker competition. This is the brainchild of Mike McCreadie along with his fellow curlers, Rosemary Lenton, Bill Masterton and Gill Keith. It is to be a fun competition, which tests each player’s shotmaking skills, making players think about ice conditions, line and weight - the fundamentals of good curling. There will be a final in March for the top twelve who score well over the season.
The principle of Shotmaker is to provide a test of each curler against the ice. Michael explains his reasoning to introduce a skills based competition. The 'why' is that it will increase the skill level of players, assist player development, challenge players to develop a full range of shots, gauges player form, assesses players ability to handle pressure, creates an additional form of competition and it will be a form of objective, transparent testing to identify the best all round player
The tests/competitions will be carried out at various locations to ensure varying ice conditions, and will involve drawing through a port, guarding, tap-up, striking through port, hog to hog timing/tee to hog timing and beat the shot.
The top twelve players will go through to final at Kinross in March 2011. The winner will receive 'Judy’s Jug' at the SWCA AGM.
Given the emphasis in the sport in selecting individuals to make up squads and teams, an individual skills based competition is a welcome innovation. It will be interesting to see how it all works out on the ice this season. Good to see too that Michael, who is taking a season out of competition, has still his heart in taking the sport forward.