23 February 2022
GB Curling is celebrating unprecedented success at this year’s Winter Olympics, after bringing home the only medals from the games for Team GB.
Glasgow-based company Star Refrigeration is supporting the sport’s growth after helping build the UK’s first dedicated curling academy in Stirling in 2017. Athletes have had access to world-class ice and the ability to train full time which has played a part in the 2022 success story of GB Curling.
Adam Strachan, technical sales engineer at Star Refrigeration, said: "The National Curling Academy opened its doors in 2017 as the UK’s first dedicated training facility for curling. We’ve installed 80% of the nation’s ice rinks and indoor ski facilities, so with our expertise, we were privileged to give our elite curling athletes a home to train at here in Scotland. The world-class facility offers the perfect training conditions, matching the championship quality of the ice at the Olympics’ playing surface. We are now seeing the benefits of the academy, as both the men’s and women’s curling teams are at the top of their game.
“We would like to congratulate every single athlete on Team GB’s curling team on their success, what a fantastic achievement for the sport.”
According to the PA news agency, GB curling’s performance director Nigel Holl has attributed the teams’ Beijing success to the national training centre in Stirling, and has called on more ice rinks across the UK to invest in their facilities.
Star Refrigeration manufactured and installed the low charge ammonia air-cooled chiller plant and floor for the £3.15 million training facility, which keeps the ice at -80C to -100C. Known for its use of natural refrigerants, Star promoted the use of ammonia for the project which has zero global warming potential. The National Curling Academy’s Azanechiller 2.0 delivers an energy efficiency that is 66% higher than the Minimum Energy Performance Standards set by the European Eco-Design Directive and minimises the facility’s energy consumption and carbon footprint.
Following the victory for Team GB’s curling teams, the spotlight will now be on the wheelchair curling team heading for the Paralympic Winter Games also held in Beijing. Bronze medallist, Aileen Neilson, who captained the Paralympic curling team at the 2018 games, was an advocate for The National Curling Academy when it opened shortly before the 2018 Winter Paralympics.
Speaking at the time, she said: “For me, the quality of ice at the ice rinks I practise at is crucial to enable me to become the best curler I can be. If you have consistent ice then you are able to more accurately analyse your technique and delivery and if the ice is consistent it is one less variable to take into account. It is good to train and practice on different ice conditions but there is nothing better than training on ‘World class’ ice every day in preparation for playing at the major competitions, like World Championships, Olympics and Paralympics where you generally get top quality ice”.
With the perfect ice and training conditions available all year round, Stirling’s dedicated curling academy gives Team GB an advantage over many of its rivals. But Star’s history with curling goes back many years. In 1985 the company was approached to build a brand new specialist curling rink for the World Championships in just four days. With curling teams and fans travelling to Glasgow from all over the world for the major curling event, the job was a major engineering feat that even attracted TV cameras and news reporters. Star’s engineers worked in 24-hour shifts to complete the curling rink in time. In the end, Star’s team rose to the challenge and by the time the curlers arrived in Glasgow, they were ready to deliver the perfect stone!
Find out more about the National Curling Academy here.