Scotland’s first dedicated curling academy was officially opened today, as Minister for Public Health and Sport Aileen Campbell threw the first stone.
The world-class National Curling Academy at Stirling Sports Village will allow Team GB and ParalympicsGB athletes as well as development teams to have year-round access to high-quality ice training.
Community players will also be able to access the state-of-the-art facility, which will help develop the grassroots side of the game while providing outstanding coaching and support programmes to the athletes who represent Scotland and Great Britain on the world stage.
Welcoming the new facility, Ms Campbell said: “I’m delighted to have thrown the first official stone at the excellent National Curling Academy.
“This outstanding facility will really help the sport grow in Scotland as our world-class athletes and club members can now practice right throughout the year on the highest-quality ice.”
Mike Whittingham, performance director at the sportscotland institute of sport, said: “We’re delighted that sportscotland and Stirling Council’s investment partnership has resulted in a world-class facility and home to curling in Scotland.
"The sport now has a terrific opportunity to attract new grassroots curlers while, simultaneously, a dedicated hub for our performance athletes can help them continue to achieve excellent results on the world stage.
“The technology in the National Curling Academy is cutting-edge and a welcome addition to our Olympic and Paralympic training programmes.”
As well as exceptionally high-quality ice on four new sheets, from September 2017 the Academy will have real-time video capture and displays comprising multiple camera viewing angles, allowing for video-based feedback on individual sheets and across all four curling sheets.
The impact of sweeping with smartbroom technology continues to be monitored and it provides real-time feedback rinkside which includes measures such as forces applied to the broom, broom head amplitude, broom frequency and ice/stone impact.
All of this data will be collected into a database which can be securely accessed both on site and remotely.
Looking to the future
Eve Muirhead, women’s 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Team GB skip and Olympic, World and European bronze medallist, believes the new facility gives the British Curling programme a real edge over rival nations.
“I am really impressed with the new Academy and it has made our lives easier and I know it has made the coaches’ lives easier as well," she said.
“Video will be available so that you can analyse your game right down to the tiniest margins. If anyone has a facility like that I don’t know what makes it better and I can’t see anyone beating this.
“It’s fantastic turning up to training knowing that you have this facility on your doorstep and it has made a big difference to us already, and I know it will right up to the Olympics and for the future of curling.”
Home of curling
Stirling Council Leader Scott Farmer said: "The opening of the National Curling Academy further cements Stirling's reputation as a hub of excellence for sport and physical activity.
“This year-round, high-quality training venue will make a significant difference to both our world-class athletes and local community clubs.
"With the world's oldest known curling stone residing in the Smith Art Gallery and Museum, Stirling really is the home of curling.
"We are proud to have worked in partnership with sportscotland to deliver a state of the art facility which will support and inspire the next generations of curlers."
Gary Bushnell, chief executive of hub East Central Scotland, said: “Our teams worked closely with sportscotland and Stirling Council to deliver a first-class facility on time and budget that will ensure a bright future for Scottish Curling.”
The National Curling Academy was awarded £1,425,000 from sportscotland and £1,726,566 from Stirling Council to make a total project cost of £3,151,566.
The ice is being tested by the performance athletes and will be open to community clubs and the public from 4 September.
The women’s and men’s curling teams have been selected to compete for Team GB in PyeongChang. In an all-Scottish line-up, Team Muirhead comprises skip Eve Muirhead, third Anna Sloan, second Vicki Adams, lead Lauren Gray and alternate Kelly Schafer, while Team Smith comprises skip Kyle Smith, third Thomas Muirhead, second Kyle Waddell, lead Cammy Smith and alternate Glen Muirhead.
ParalympicsGB have qualified for Pyeongchang though Scotland’s results and team selection takes place in December.
Find out more
What makes a good high-performance environment? Read David Murdoch and Euan Burton on Sport First.
The rise of professionalism in curling has been years in the making. We took a look at the modern history of the sport.
Are you interested in getting involved in curling in Scotland? Click on our link to the British Curling website.