WHEELCHAIR CURLERS GET FIRST COMPETITION OF SEASON UNDERWAY
The Paralympic curling squad have prepared for their season debut in Denmark with a series of friendly matches against Russia at the new National Curling Academy (NCA) to get them back into competition mode.
Sochi Paralympic bronze medallist Aileen Neilson said ahead of the tournament: “Team Scotland are looking forward to our first competition of the year in Denmark. With a strong field of ten nations it will be a great opportunity to out all our hard work over the summer into practice.
“We have been really fortunate over the last few weeks to be using the excellent facilities at the new NCA in Stirling and this will be a great asset to us during what will be a busy schedule in the coming months as we prepare for the Paralympic Games in PyeongChang next year.”
Neilson will skip the team which includes Gregor Ewan, Hugh Nibloe, Robert McPherson, John Doyle and Angie Malone, the line-up who turned around their fortunes last year by bouncing back from relegation and qualifying for the World Wheelchair Championships and winning bronze as well as securing their Paralympic qualification.
Head Wheelchair Coach Sheila Swan however now believes it is time to focus on preparing for the challenges ahead. Swan said: “That adversity helped the team to find their resilience and they worked together as a team to come through that and showed they were a world class team. However we cannot dwell on what is past and need to power forward as we are aware that we have a target on our backs.
“This weekend will be a great indicator of where we are at and will help the team to consolidate much of the hard work and changes we have implemented. We have been using the NCA and I don’t believe any other nation has access to that kind of facility and that will put us in a great position and help us to keep on improving in what will be quite a long season as we build toward the Games in March,” said Swan.
Elsewhere, the new line up skipped by Olympic bronze medallist Claire Hamilton which sees her teaming up with Gina Aitken, Rachael Halliday and Rachel Hannen will make their competitive debut at the Colonial Square Ladies Classic in Saskatoon, Canada. The British Curling Performance Foundation teams skipped by Sophie Jackson and Cameron Bryce, whose rinks have already enjoyed overseas action, will meanwhile get their competition schedule in Scotland underway this weekend at the Braehead Open.
Sophie Jackson said: “We are really looking forward to kicking off our season at the Braehead Open this season. Even though we have been on ice for the past month or so at the fantastic new facility at the NCA it will be great to get out and compete again as that is what we love doing.
“During the pre-season we have analysed our past performances with our coach Cate Brewster and worked on where we can improve and hopefully this will help us to push our team further in the months ahead as we aim to increase our world ranking in what will be our last season before we move from the junior into the ladies ranks.
“Braehead will be a great starting place for us to settle in before we head to the Stockholm Ladies Cup the following weekend, where we will play some of the best teams in the world which we are very excited about,” Jackson added.
Cameron Bryce who skipped his rink to the Tallinn Challenger title in Estonia earlier this month hopes his team will continue that form this weekend.
“This weekend is our first competition in Scotland this season and we are really looking forward to playing against some familiar names,” said Bryce.
“We are hoping we can continue our winning ways and use this as a stepping stone towards our season goals.”
Photos: WCF / Celine Stucki
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Colonial Ladies Classic