Curling: Fraternity gear up for international extravaganza

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CITY curlers are hoping to sweep up when the Edinburgh Men’s International Curling Championships get underway at Murrayfield in three weeks.

With a total of 24 teams confirmed for the event, the Capital will become a temporary home for some of the best in the business with many of Europe’s elite curlers making the journey in pursuit of a top prize of £4,000.

Trevor Dodds, chairman of the organising committee and twice a winner of the competition itself, is predicting a weekend of intense competition beginning on Friday, November 25, with free entry for all spectators. Dodds said: “We’ve got a really exciting draw with so many great players coming from both Scotland and the continent, so it’s tremendous.”

The championships are part of a European tour and this year, with the financial constraints around Europe, Lucerne in Switzerland has dropped out so that has helped the competition which will have much better entry this time around.

There is also a seniors event which will begin on Wednesday November 23 with Dodds adding: “They will come back on the Sunday to play the semi-finals and final so it will be a very intense week.”

Preparations for the championships have proved a challenging process but one the organising team have managed with great purpose.

With the occasion marking just one in a long list of events included in the European Curling Champions Tour, Dodds is adamant Edinburgh will once again step up to the plate and provide a competition the City can be proud of.

He added: “Everything seems to be on course so, touch wood, we’ll be ok.

“It has involved a lot of work getting everything ready for the event. Things like keeping our sponsors onboard, the Braid Hills Hotel and Murrayfield Curling Limited is very important as without them there would simply be no competition to run.

“My secretary Robin Copland and I are basically helping to run the tournament with a small selected band so it is hard work.”

Dodds is also encouraged by participation rates around the Capital’s rinks, with an increase in both membership and the formation of new clubs.

The national side’s achievements at international competitions, which includes a gold medal for an all-Scots team representing Great Britain at the 2002 Winter Olympics, has raised the profile of the sport in recent years. “We have about 2000 curlers within the city’s boundaries.” Dodds adds. “Edinburgh Curling Club for example runs at about 92 per cent capacity and is the busiest rink in Scotland.

“Many clubs still have ‘come and try days’ and there is also lots of coaching going on. Some people have struggled to get into teams because of high numbers so new clubs have formed as a result.”