The Plan has been in gestation for many months and has been agreed with all of British Curling's partner organisations and members: the British Olympic Association, British Paralympic Association, English Curling Association, Royal Caledonian Curling Club, Scottish Disability Sport, Scottish Institute of Sport, sportscotland, Scottish Wheelchair Curling Association, UK Sport and the Welsh Curling Association.
The key features of the plan involve the selection of individual curlers into squads of eight, which will be whittled down to form teams of five players. The important change, made in response to comments and feedback from those involved in the run up to the 2006 Games, will be that the teams should be finalised well in advance of the Vancouver event. Additionally, the Performance Plan suggests that only curlers who have already made their mark in international competitions will be considered for selection.
The text of the press release from the Scottish Institute of Sport reads, 'The plan outlines performance targets, the staffing structure and selection process, as well as the key elements of the programme's content and delivery. In addition, the athletes have fully participated in the review process, to ensure the most appropriate content and delivery of the performance programme for the Olympic squads.
After a highly successful 2006/7 season during which curling was the only winter sport to achieve all UK Sport targets, British Curling is looking forward to the next three years with confidence.
Chairman of British Curling, Chris Hildrey, commented, "This performance plan will be delivered with the integrated support of all the partners. The ultimate target of medal success in 2010 is something we all partners look forward to working on together."
Derek Brown as Scottish Institute of Sport head curling coach and British Curling performance director, whose role is to deliver the world class plans for curling in the build up to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, as well as the European Youth Olympics in 2009, commented, "The performance plan reflects the collective thinking of our partners and importantly, the athletes as well. What we have now is a plan that will result in improved quality of coaching and support services through working with smaller, targeted groups of athletes for longer lead in times."
The selection process will continue to be based on individual performance, although following feedback from key stakeholders, there will be some important developments from the Turin 2006 process. To ensure maximum support for the curlers, there will be three full-time coaches in place, men's, women's and wheelchair. In addition the squads will be smaller, a maximum of eight athletes in each, to ensure athletes receive the best possible coaching. Squads will be selected in May 2008, seven months earlier than the Turin cycle, and the squad will then be reduced to five in May 2009, allowing the squads more time to compete as a team in the build up to the Games. Finally, only athletes with a recent international track record will be considered for selection.'
The BC Board is Chris Hildrey (chairman, photo above), Derek Brown (performance director), Hew Chalmers, Alan Chalmers, Mike Gillespie and Frank Duffy. Another director with responsibilites for media, communications and PR should be appointed soon following a recent advert. Chris Hildrey confirms that the British Curling website is currently under construction.
Scottish curlers currently receiving support, either in the Elite Scotland Squad or via the National Academy, are listed here.