Rink roy­alty to land

Olympians to curl at Mer­cure City Mas­ters

Strathearn Herald - - FRONT PAGE - Matthew Gal­lagher

Strath curl­ing fans have the chance to see the sport’ top­class play­ers bound for the Win­ter Olympics in ac­tion this week at Perth’s De­wars Cen­tre.

The pres­ti­gious Mer­cure City of Perth Mas­ters has a long- held rep­u­ta­tion of lay­ing on one of the finest events in Europe.

And the Jan­uary spec­ta­cle is set to be big­ger and bet­ter than ever be­fore with seven Win­ter Olympic teams grac­ing Paul Martin’s fa­mous ice.

Teams from Canada, Czech Repub­lic, Den­mark, Ger­many, Italy, Ja­pan, Nether­lands, Nor­way, Rus­sia, Swe­den, Switzer­land and Scot­land will be rep­re­sented.

Chair­man Pete Loudon has watched the event grow through the years and he is proud to be wel­com­ing such a stel­lar line-up.

“Hav­ing seven out of 10 Olympic teams is mas­sive for me,” Pete ex­plained. “It would have been eight but un­for­tu­nately the Kore­ans have had a move in their sched­ule.

“It was a shame be­cause their coach Bob Ursel won the World Ju­niors in Perth back in the eight­ies.

“I still keep in touch with him and he was re­ally look­ing for­ward to com­ing back to where he had won that cham­pi­onship all of those years ago.

“But in terms of strength of field, we prob­a­bly have the best in Europe. We have the medal win­ners from the Euro­peans.

“The time of year helps be­cause it is ben­e­fi­cial to the curlers for their sched­ule.

“It’s great prepa­ra­tion for the Win­ter Olympics with teams play­ing against those who they are go­ing to face.”

The on and off-ice hos­pi­tal­ity of­fered by the event con­tin­ues to bring the world’s best back for more.

And Pete said: “The big thing for me is that the event is the whole pack­age.

“The ice con­di­tions and stones are the best and that should not be un­der­es­ti­mated.

“Play­ers gen­uinely com­pare them to some of the big are­nas where they play their ma­jor com­pe­ti­tions.

“Paul Martin and the ice boys do a mag­nif­i­cent job and they are pas­sion­ate about what they do.

“If you have an ice tech­ni­cian who is pas­sion­ate and wants the best, then you are go­ing to get that.

“There is all of the ac­tiv­ity off ice too. We pick the curlers up from the air­port and drop them off.

“We do the din­ner in the ho­tel on the Fri­day night and if the play­ers want to play golf, we can even or­gan­ise that for them.

“Ev­ery­one knows what they are do­ing on the com­mit­tee from the trans­port to or­gan­is­ing the din­ner. We have the model that works.

“The com­mit­tee is made up of vol­un­teers and they do it be­cause they love the sport and want to put some­thing back in.

“We try to make it an all- round ex­pe­ri­ence for the play­ers.

“The event brings a buzz to Perth and you will see the teams com­ing into the town, walk­ing about the restau­rants and shops in their team jack­ets.”

Play at the De­wars Cen­tre runs from Thurs­day, Jan­uary 4 through un­til the Sun­day and Pete is urg­ing Strath peo­ple to take in the ac­tion.

He said: “First of all I would say the event is free. Where else in the world could you walk in and watch Olympic com­peti­tors at the top of their game for free?

“There are games all of the time so you can wan­der into De­wars Cen­tre to take in the ac­tion.

“The other good thing about curl­ing at the top level is that the com­peti­tors will fin­ish their game and mix with any­body who comes in to watch.

“There is not any­thing which sep­a­rates the top class ath­letes from the gen­eral pub­lic. That is unique in sport.”

Pete re­vealed the event will again be streamed live on­line, air­ing the ac­tion out across the globe.

“I would like to ex­tend my thanks to the World Curl­ing Fed­er­a­tion who will be sup­port­ing us,” he said.

“We have a we­b­cast again this year with two games a day broad­cast on World Curl­ing TV.

“We get views from all over the world, pri­mar­ily in North Amer­ica, but also in China be­cause the sport is grow­ing so much over there.

“I look for­ward to many ex­cit­ing games of curl­ing and the usual so­cia­ble curl­ing fel­low­ship off the ice.”

Provost of Perth and Kin­ross Coun­cil Den­nis Mel­loy is also look­ing for­ward to wel­com­ing com­peti­tors to the city.

He said: “The Mer­cure City of Perth Mas­ters is usu­ally the first sport­ing event of the year, and with the ex­tremely large del­e­ga­tion of over­seas com­peti­tors and sup­port­ers trav­el­ling here to Perth, it gives the event a truly in­ter­na­tional flavour.

“It is with the great­est of plea­sure that I wel­come all the com­peti­tors, of­fi­cials, fam­i­lies and sup­port­ers to the Fair City of Perth.”

All set Mer­cure City of Perth Mas­ters chair­man Pete Loudon

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.