Ambassador Ross Paterson tells us what it’s like to be back on the ice after a long break
After a 4 and half month break without ice, we were finally given the green light to return to training this week at the National Curling Academy in Stirling.
Things look very different as you can imagine, with lots of procedures in place to ensure the safety of all the athletes and coaches but British Curling have done a fantastic job and it’s been great to get back to what we love!
We’re very lucky as elite athletes to have access to the first ice available in Scotland and it’s something we certainly don’t take for granted. Our first event of the season has been confirmed as the Baden Masters in Switzerland at the end of August so the ice time we have now is vital for our pre-season preparations to ensure we’re in the best shape possible before we enter the 2020/2021 competitive season.
To compare this to my team’s previous season, our last event was the World Cup of Curling Final in Beijing, returning home on 14th May and our pre-season kicked off again in the middle of July so with what’s been an extended off-season this year we’re all extremely excited about getting the opportunity to play competitive Curling again.
COVID has had a huge impact on Curling as it has with the vast majority of sports globally and there’s still uncertainty surrounding how this seasons competition schedule might unfold. Our teams rely heavily on tour events in Canada like the Grand Slam of Curling to fill out schedules as there’s a high strength of field and over recent years British Curling teams have consistently shown that they can compete against and beat the best teams in the World.
These are the events as athletes that we all love to play in as they are always well supported by local fans which creates a great atmosphere to play in and a lot of games are televised so it means friends and families can tune in and watch us back home.
Sadly, it’s already been confirmed that the first four Grand Slam events have been cancelled up to April 2021 which gives us a strong indication that travelling across the pond to compete won’t be possible for the near future at least and possibly beyond that.
These are the events as athletes that we all love to play in as they are always incredibly well supported by local fans which creates a great atmosphere to play in and a lot of games are televised so it means friends and families can tune in and watch us back home. However, it’s already been confirmed that the first four Grand Slam events have been cancelled up to April 2021 which gives us a strong indication that travelling across the pond to compete won’t be possible for the near future at least and possibly beyond that.
This puts emphasis on a strong European tour especially with us being in the Olympic qualifying season for teams to be able to compete and I know there’s a lot of hard work currently going on behind the scenes to help make this happen. The strength and depth of European teams has significantly increased over recent years with both the ladies and men having six teams inside the Top 20 World Curling Tour rankings so any new events created will be both well supported and highly competitive.
If things are done well which I’m sure they will be, I’m hopeful that this will secure top level Curling events in Europe for the future generation of talented curlers coming through and in Scotland we’re lucky to have them in abundance. For now though I’m just grateful to be back training with my team mates and although we can’t be certain about how our season will shape up we can be sure that when we do get the opportunity to compete we’ll be doing everything we can to make the most of it.
I really hope the British Curling athletes returning to the ice this week is a positive sign for all ice sports. One small group of curlers have returned to the ice safely and I hope everyone else is able to follow on and get back to doing what they love as soon as possible.
Photo credit: Celine Stucki