Monday, July 25, 2011

Curling's future secure at Perth

One definition of rumour is 'information, often a mixture of truth and untruth, passed around verbally'. These days, rumours circulate widely thanks to the internet, and not just by word of mouth. I don't do rumours much on Skip Cottage Curling - for one thing, I don't like to pass on the 'untruth' aspects of what one tends to hear. I always try to seek confirmation, or otherwise. So when I began to hear rumours about the Dewar's Centre in Perth last month, I made an effort to find out just what was happening there by contacting Bill Duncan, the chairman of the rink's board.

Bill assured me that the future for the Dewar's Centre was positive, rather than negative as the rumours were suggesting. He said then, "Can I take this opportunity to remind the curling world that our financial position continues to be stable, and like all good businesses, we are always looking for new development opportunities to take our business forward."

It all becomes public knowledge today as the news that is likely to affect the Dewar's Centre has been released.

Live Active Leisure is an independent ‘not for profit’ company limited by guarantee with charitable status, and is contracted (by Perth and Kinross Council) to operate fourteen leisure venues in Perth and Kinross. This includes the Dewar's Centre, which many regard as Scotland's flagship curling centre with its eight sheets of ice and is, of course, a regular venue for the Scottish Championships.

Today's press release from Live Active Leisure reads, "Working closely with partners and consultants, Live Active Leisure has now developed a vision for sporting and leisure facilities in Perth and Kinross to ensure provision for our community for the next 20 years and beyond. The developing vision focuses on the site currently comprising Perth Leisure Pool and the Dewar's Centre and it is proposed to create a ‘Live Active Leisure Park’ with significant reconfiguration and redevelopment of the pool area and its ‘fun features’ for example.

The purpose of the Leisure Park site would be to more effectively meet current and future needs and aspirations in a manner that reflects economic and environmental challenges, whilst also being more flexible to reflect shifting activity trends.

Bill Duncan (Chairman of Dewars Centre) said: The Board of Dewar's Centre supports the ‘Live Active Leisure Park’ vision that will secure the long term future of the facilities and build on much of the sporting success enjoyed in this area whilst also recognizing the need for a more sustainable future. Sport plays such an integral role in enhancing the lives of so many people across Perth and Kinross and also acts as an economic stimulus, so having a vision that covers at least 20 years is both exciting and necessary for Perth.

Perth and Kinross Council has agreed to provide £5 million of financial support to this project and Live Active Leisure are in the process of preparing further funding bids to organisations such as sportscotland.

The Council’s Lifelong Learning Convener, Councillor Liz Grant commented: In making this capital commitment, we are determined that our leisure facilities continue to improve to meet the challenges and needs of the future. It is time for more radical change to keep our ice rink and swimming pool at the forefront. I look forward to working closely with Live Active Leisure to make sure we have the best possible facilities for residents and visitors alike.

Linton Scarborough (Chairman of Live Active Leisure) said: The commitment to working in partnership to ensure this exciting project keeps Perth at the forefront of innovative and efficient sports and leisure facility provision is something that can only be great news for everyone wishing to live active in this community in the next 20 years. I applaud the vision and commitment of Perth and Kinross Council with whom we are working closely and their support provides Live Active Leisure with a great start to our efforts to secure all necessary funding and turn our vision into a reality in the years ahead.

In these times, it is good to hear of investment in sporting facilities. Of course, the above press release is short in detail. However, a Project Manager for the vision will be appointed soon, and only then will we all see what difference the investment will make to our sport, and exactly what the Leisure Park complex will include.

Last words to Bill who says, "I believe that this is an exciting project which should give stability to the business well into the future."

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Representing Scotland on the World and European Curling Federations

Do you have the qualifications to represent Scottish Curling interests on the World Curling Federation and European Curling Federation?

The Royal Club has four representatives at WCF meetings. These are appointed by, and report to, the Royal Club’s Board of Directors. The Chief Executive is a fixed appointment and the other three representatives are appointed for a period of three years. Some years ago, the latter positions were opened up to the membership at large, to ensure the most suitable candidates could be appointed, even if they were not already involved in the hierarchy of the Royal Club. Hew Chalmers was the first to be appointed from the general membership, and more recently Edith Loudon was the second appointment made in this way. There is one vacancy available, since Jeanette Johnston has completed two terms, and nominations are being sought for this post.

So, do you feel you have the qualifications to do the job for Scotland in the international political arena? Your responsibilities would be to attend and contribute to meetings which may take about eight days per year. These mainly coincide with World and European Championships. You would need to attend and contribute to the External Relations Committee of the Royal Club. Your responsibility would be to represent the views of the Royal Club Board and members at the WCF/ECF and try to influence decisions favourably for Scotland. You would have to be in a position to inform the Royal Club Board of WCF/ECF issues, developments and decisions which are likely to affect Scotland, and to contribute to the WCF/ECF report to the Royal Club’s AGM. You would have the responsibility to build relationships with representatives from other member associations to promote and sustain the position of the Royal Club as the ‘mother club of curling', as well as playing an active part in committees, work groups or projects as required by WCF/ECF.

There's more about applying for the position here, and you have until Friday, August 5, to do so. You need to be a member of the Royal Club, have in depth knowledge of the Royal Club’s policies/practices/organisation of curling in Scotland, extensive knowledge of international competition, and an understanding of elite athlete issues. You will have good communication and presentation skills and the ability to network and influence. You need to have credibility as an international ambassador for Scotland with the membership of the Royal Club.

Travel and accommodation for meetings is paid by the Royal Club through support from UK Sport.

I asked Hew Chalmers how he viewed the past few years. He responded, "Yes, I have really enjoyed being a rep. The WCF is working well and does a great deal for curling. It is now led by some very good people. The individual countries reps are also much more knowledgeable and has as a result created much better debate, especially around competitions and governance."

So, what sort of person would be a good fit to the position available? Hew says, "The ideal person to come on as a new rep would require to have the time to attend the two major championships, the Europeans and the Worlds, and have the ability to network well with other people to help bring people onside when and if you require support for something."

Edith notes that potential representatives, "... will need to be able to give up a fair bit of time to travel to all the meetings. I would say there are now past international curlers coming into the frame as reps so it would be good to get a mix of experienced people."

The representatives are volunteers and are not paid. As noted above some funding comes from UK Sport. Through an 'influencing strategy, those at UK Sport like to see the people they invest in coming through sports into leadership positions where they are then able to influence their sport, for example, in helping to bring major sporting events to the UK. Hew's appointment to the Board of the British Olympic Association (see here) can certainly be seen as a positive outcome that their strategy is working.

Mind you, being an international representative , however interesting, may not always be easy. The difficulties faced by the European Curling Federation in the past couple of years, culminating in the resignation of the president, are an example. One only has to read between the lines of the recent meeting of the ECF Executive Board in Munich (see the report here) to imagine the many headaches for those involved!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Strength and Conditioning for Scotland's Curlers

Need a personal trainer? Curlers Neil and Ross McKinlay have just opened a strength and conditioning gym in Glasgow, and are keen to see Scottish curlers using the facility in the Govan area.

You can read more about the new gym at These two posts here and here show the facility being fitted out last month.

There is a video of two members of the David Murdoch team hard at it here. Well done to Richard Woods and Ross Paterson for allowing us all a glimpse of their suffering!

Curling teams who are looking for the edge in their fitness, mentally and physically, will be most welcome. Teams and coaches are invited to come and try out a FREE session.

Neil says, "I will be getting in touch with each team in the Scottish circuit, both mens and ladies about training at the facility. Because we have been involved with curling for years we are offering a sponsorship deal to a team that has a bit of fight in them!"

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Have you design talent?

Mike Ferguson at Forfar Indoor Sports is looking for someone to design a logo for the new National Super League, see here.

Mike's contact details are here, if you would like to find out more. It may well be worth your while!

On the competition itself, it goes ahead on October 21-23 at Forfar. Mike says that only a couple of more teams are required to completely fill the competition.

Entries Invited for Aberdeen City Open

Skip Cottage Curling is still in holiday mode (and will be until August), but the sport certainly is not, and there is a lot happening out there. You will know already of the launch of the Scottish Curling Tour, bringing together five open events in the calendar, see my post here. The last of these, the Petrofac Aberdeen City Open, will take place February 3-5.

The inaugural event was last season and a great success. I really enjoyed being involved, see here, and here as an example, but check back in February's archive if you want to see all the posts. For the new season, Petrofac is sponsor again, and teams will battle it out to have their names engraved on the striking trophy that Aberdeen City Council donated following the European Curling Championships that were hosted by Aberdeen.

The competition is open to any four curlers who wish to enter from home or abroad. Every team is guaranteed four games as the twenty-four teams will play a schenkel system of four group games in two sections. The top four teams from each section will contest quarterfinals on Sunday morning.

The organising committee notes, "We are delighted that this event has also been selected to be one of a number of events that is to form the ‘Goldline Scottish Curling Tour’, with that in mind we expect that there will be significant interest in the event and would encourage early registration to avoid disappointment."

The new website is up and running already, see here, for further information and all the contact details if you would like to enter. Note the special accommodation deal with the local Holiday Inn Express at Westhill. Included in your entry fee is a two course meal followed by an evening of entertainment on the Saturday.

Monday, July 11, 2011

25th Anniversary for Aberdeen Ladies Invitation

It's a crowded season, but it takes courage for event organisers to grab the nettle and change to a new date in the calendar. Last season, the Aberdeen Ladies Invitation clashed in January with the Glynhill at Braehead, and the Four Nations. The committee has now taken the decision to relocate the event to earlier in this coming season, feeling that there is less going on in November than post Christmas. And it's an anniversary year for the popular competition.

Louise Wood writes, "This year’s event is particularly important as the competition has reached a significant milestone and will be celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. The committee of Judith Carr, Kay Gibb, Kate Henderson and Louise Wood are determined to ensure that this year’s event both builds on the successes of the previous years of competition but also looks to the future with a few new elements and tweaks being added to the event.

The first big change for the competition is when it takes place, typically the competition has taken place in early January however the committee have acknowledged that the competitive calendar is extremely full at this time of year and have made the decision to move the weekend competition to earlier in the season, Friday 11 - Sunday 13 November.

In order to celebrate and mark the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the competition the committee are keen to ensure as many previous champions take part in the weekend as possible. If you have previously won the competition as a skip we will be making every effort to get in touch with you – if you haven’t heard from us please do drop Judy an email ( The entry fee will once again remain at £160.00 per team. We hope to see as many of you at the weekend as possible – even if you don’t want to play we would be delighted to welcome you to Curl Aberdeen as a spectator."

I am sure the event will be a big success, and as much fun as ever! If you have played in it before, why don't you consider a weekend in Aberdeen to join the celebrations!

I should just make it clear that the Ladies Invitation is quite separate from the second leg of the Women's Tour which also goes ahead at Curl Aberdeen, the weekend following the ALI, on November 18-20.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Winter Olympics for South Korea in 2018

Pyeongchang has been awarded the 2018 Winter Olympics. The Korean venue defeated rivals Munich, Germany, and Annecy, France, in the first round of the secret ballot of the International Olympic Committee yesterday.

Needing 48 votes for victory, Pyeongchang received 63 of the 95 votes cast. Munich received 25 and Annecy seven.

Pyeonchang lost narrowly in previous bids for the 2010 and 2014 Olympics. The Gangneung Indoor Ice Rink, which hosted the 2009 Mount Titlis World Women's Curling Championship, will host the Olympic (and Paralympic) curling in 2018, see here. There are photos of the venue in this post from the WCF.

The official Olympic 2018 website is here.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Gail Munro Wins Defamation Case

It was more than three years ago when Derek Brown, the Royal Club's National Coach and British Curling's Performance Director at the time, declared to the world's media that the skip of the Scottish team had refused to play for her country at the World Women's Curling Championship in Vernon, British Columbia.

Gail has always denied that 'she refused to play for her country', and that matter has remained unresolved although much has happened in the interim. However, in April this year, Gail brought her case to the Court of Session where it was heard by Lord Doherty. In the action Gail sued Derek for defamation. She maintained that what the defender said at the press conference was false and defamatory. Derek response was that what he said was true.

You can read the judge's decision in its entirety online here. I encourage you to do so, even though it does not make for comfortable reading if you are a lover of the sport. What is important is that Lord Doherty found in Gail's favour, and awarded her damages of £21,950.

Many will say that the curling world has moved on since the events in Vernon. Certainly, what happened then brought into sharp focus the difficulties that can arise when team members, coaches and support staff are not completely a 'team' - a situation that can easily arise when an unsupported side wins the right to represent our country, and Olympic points are at stake. If you have read Michael Nicholson's official report (see my comments from March 2009 here and here), and indeed the full text of Lord Doherty's decision from today, you will realise that sport at the top level presents many difficulties and complications, other than what happens out on the ice. I can only hope that those in charge of our sport will have learned lessons for the future.

It has been a long and costly road for Gail to clear her name and reputation. She will be relieved by today's decision.

Derek Brown is no longer working in Scottish curling. He is the United States Curling Association's first High Performance Director, see here.

Top photo of Gail Munro is © Skip Cottage

Friday, July 01, 2011

Edinburgh International 2011

When I think back to the Edinburgh International last season, it is the weather that comes to mind as the city disappeared under all the snow. Organiser Robin Copland, who found himself stranded in the wilds of Balerno (!) on the Sunday, has been in touch with news of the 2011 competition.

He writes, "Entries for the championships are coming in now from all over Europe and eight teams, including Joel Retornaz’s Italian team and Markku Uusipaavalniemi, the former Olympic Silver medallist, have already signed up for the event. They will join Scottish teams skipped by the likes of Scottish runner-up, Sandy Reid, Logan Gray and Stranraer’s Frazer Hare. All the top finishers in last season’s Scottish Championships were invited and have a deadline of July 8 to reply. Teams that are knocking on the door, like former Scottish Junior Champion Ally Fraser, Blair Fraser and Graham Shedden, have also applied and are keen to play in the event in the event of spaces being available.

This year’s competition will run from November 25-27. We will continue to webcast the event live from Murrayfield and plan to have some cameras situated in the ice hall this year. Hopefully, quality will be further improved for the armchair viewer.

The popular seniors event is now over-subscribed and late entries will be put on the reserve list. Again, there is a strong field, headed up by three-time Scottish Senior Champion and former World Champion Keith Prentice. Murrayfield’s own Colin Hamilton will want put down an early marker for the season’s Scottish Senior Championships. The draw for the event will be published presently. Round-robin games will take place on November 23 and 24 with the semifinals and finals coinciding with the Edinburgh International on Sunday, November 27.

It promises to be a great week of curling and hopefully this year we will not be afflicted by the weather in the way that we were last season!"

Robin Copland, having walked and ridden public transport to get to Murrayfield through the snow, was behind the microphone in the commentary booth for the Edinburgh International Final 2010. Photo © Skip Cottage.