Team GB’s wheelchair curling team captain, Aileen Nielson, hopes training at the UK’s first National Curling Academy pays off.
Team GB’s wheelchair curling team sets off for the 2018 Winter Paralympics in PyeongChang tomorrow, and skipper Aileen Nielson is feeling more confident than ever. Not only have the team boosted confidence by recently reaching the final of the British Open, the athletes have been training at the UK’s first National Curling Academy in Stirling which offers top quality similar to what they expect to compete on in Korea.
Star Refrigeration, an expert in providing ice rinks and indoor ski slopes, had a part in constructing the brand new curling rink as well as the ice rink at Braehead Arena, where bronze medallist Aileen Neilson trained for the Sochi 2014 games.
The National Curling Academy opened its doors at The Peak in Stirling last summer, just in time for the winter athletes to up their training regime before the 2018 Winter Olympics. This is the nation’s first curling venue of this kind, and before the specialist training facility was built curling athletes were using ice rinks to train. The wheelchair curling squad meet and train for two full days a week on the four new sheets, in addition to personal training routines at the NCA and other ice rinks in Hamilton and Glasgow.
Scotland’s history of curling has put Team GB on the map for the Olympics and Paralympic event, but the nation is yet to be named the best in the world. After local funding was agreed to develop the NCA, it is hoped 2018 will result in a Gold Medal.
The Scottish Government Minister for Public Health and Sports, Aileen Campbell, said, “As our Paralympic curling team head to PyeongChang, they go with the confidence of having had a high quality preparation in world class facilities, and that they have given themselves the best chance of success. This is thanks to the support and hard work of the National Curling Academy and Star Refrigeration. Scotland is committed to sport being accessible to all, and seeing our para athletes compete on the world stage is powerful inspiration to anybody who wants to participate and achieve their goals.”
When asked about the new state of the art curling rink, Aileen Neilson said, “For me, the quality of ice at the ice rinks I practise at is crucial to enable me to become the best curler I can be. If you have consistent ice then you are able to more accurately analyse your technique and delivery and if the ice is consistent it is one less variable to take into account. It is good to train and practice on different ice conditions but there is nothing better than training on ‘World class’ ice every day in preparation for playing at the major competitions, like Worlds, Olympics and Paralympics where you generally get top quality ice”.
The Paralympic team has been sharing the world class ice at the NCA with local curling athletes Eve, Thomas and Glen Muirhead, who were recently competing at the Winter Olympics. Collectively, Team GB are hoping that the investment in the better training facilities has paid off and they all aim to bring home more medals following the bronze wins at Sochi.
Alan Walkinshaw of Star Refrigeration who oversaw the project at the NCA said, “We are thrilled to be developing top level training facilities to help UK athletes succeed in their chosen sports and reach their full potential. Having followed Aileen’s achievements over the years and after meeting her when she visited Star’s headoffice, I know she’s a very determined woman and I’m sure she’ll lead us to victory so I wish her the best of luck – we’re all rooting for the GB curling teams!”.
Aileen Nielson added, “I would like to thank Star Refrigeration for their continued support, and all the ice rinks we have used over the years. We appreciate all of the hard work by dedicated staff who are involved in producing top quality ice in order for us to be the best we can be”.
Find out more about the National Curling Academy at http://www.the-peak-stirling.org.uk/ice-rink/curling-times-and-prices/