Friday, December 10, 2010

Curling Politics

I attended part of the World Curling Federation's Semi Annual General Assembly this morning. I expect plaudits and a 'well done, Bob' for this. As you probably know, curling politics is not really my biggest love. And the sun was shining outside. And the mountains were looking beautiful. And I wanted to get back down the valley to Monthey to see the B finals. Anyway.....

WCF President Kate Caithness and WCF General Secretary Colin Grahamslaw.

Delegates gather in a mini lecture theatre for the meeting. Recognise anyone?

There is to be a major change in the way countries qualify for the Olympics. Members voted to create a two year point qualification period to take effect immediately, pending approval of the International Olympic Committee, ahead of the Sochi 2014 games.

As I have had it explained to me, the seven countries with the highest points tally over the two seasons, plus the host country Russia, will qualify for Sochi. That leaves two places to be decided.

A new Olympic Qualification event will be staged in November 2013 and will be open to any eligible WCF Member Association whose teams play in the World Curling Championships (I'm presuming in 2011, 2012 and 2013) but who do not qualify in the top seven ranking. This competition will provide the remaining two teams in the Olympic women's and men's event.

Some of the other decisions and announcements made today included WCF President Kate Caithness nomination to the Olympic Programme Commission by the Association of International Olympic Winter Sports Federations (AIOWF). This appointment will be ratified by International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge in January 2011. Note: The Olympic Programme Commission is responsible for reviewing and analysing the programme of sports, disciplines and events, as well as the number of athletes in each sport, for the Games of the Olympiad and the Olympic Winter Games.

Armenia and Romania were welcomed as the 47th and 48th member associations of the World Curling Federation.

The 2011 World Curling Freytag Awardee is Ray Kingsmith (Canada), posthumously. Kingsmith, a former president of the Canadian Curling Association (1984), died in May 1988. His family will receive the award in recognition notably for the work he did in establishing curling as a demonstration sport at the Olympic Winter Games in Calgary in 1988.

The World Curling Freytag Award is a tribute to the late Elmer Freytag of the US Curling Association, one of the founding members of the International Curling Federation (now WCF). It honours curlers for world-championship-level playing ability, sportsmanship, character and the achievement of extraordinary distinction; and/or builders, individuals who are honoured for distinguished service and major contributions to the development and advancement of international curling.

The opening stone of the Capital One World Women’s Curling Championship 2011 in Esbjerg, Denmark, will be played by Crown Prince Frederik, the heir to the Danish throne. The opening ceremony and first games of the event will be staged in the evening of Friday, March 18. The official dates of the event are now March 18-27, 2011.

The WCF has adopted and will abide by the IOC policy on transsexuals. The IOC ruling (18/05/2004) is ‘Transsexuals will be able to compete [at the Olympics] if they have had appropriate surgery and are legally recognized as members of their new sex.’

On an unhappy note, the simmering differences between the WCF and the European Curling Federation have exploded here at Champery. Apparently Andrew Ferguson-Smith, the ECF President (that's him above with ECF Secretary Saskia Krugl), spoke critically of the WCF at a meeting of the ECF yesterday.

This was raised on the floor of the WCF Semi Annual Assembly today, several delegates lamenting the situation and calling for a better working relationship between the two bodies. Especially telling was Jeanette Johnston's words that she and some fellow ECF Executive members did not agree with their President's views. Ferguson-Smith has done much to promote curling within Europe, but it would seen that the ECF Executive is divided in support of him. However, he was re-elected President, unopposed, this week. The makeup of the new ECF Executive Board is here. Hew Chalmers is representative for Great Britain and Ireland.

There is the 'small' matter too of a pending court case where the Polish Curling Association is objecting to the ECF not allowing their teams to compete because they did not submit their membership fees in time. How often have I said this? Curling used to be such a simple game!

Photos © Skip Cottage