Aileen Neilson with the Star Refrigeration team.
Star Refrigeration, an expert in providing ice rinks and indoor ski slopes, also worked on the ice rink at Braehead Arena, where bronze medallist Ms Neilson trained for the Sochi 2014 games.
The nation’s first curling venue of its kind, the National Curling Academy opened its doors at The Peak in Stirling last summer, just in time for the winter athletes to up their training regime before the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Scotland’s history of curling has put Team GB on the map for the Olympics and Paralympic event, but the nation is yet to be named the best in the world. After local funding was agreed to develop the National Curling Academy, it is hoped 2018 will result in a gold medal.
The Scottish government minister for public health and sports, Aileen Campbell, said: “As our Paralympic curling team head to PyeongChang, they go with the confidence of having had a high quality preparation in world class facilities, and that they have given themselves the best chance of success. This is thanks to the support and hard work of the National Curling Academy and Star Refrigeration.”
Ms Neilson 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 Worlds, Olympics and Paralympics where you generally get top quality ice”.
The Paralympic team has been sharing the world class ice at the National Curling Academy with local curling athletes Eve, Thomas and Glen Muirhead, who are currently competing at the Winter Olympics. Collectively, Team GB are hoping that the investment in the better training facilities has paid off and they all aim to bring home more medals following the bronze wins at Sochi.
Alan Walkinshaw of Star Refrigeration, who oversaw the project at the National Curling Academy, said: “We are thrilled to be developing top level training facilities to help UK athletes succeed in their chosen sports and reach their full potential. Having followed Aileen’s achievements over the years and after meeting her when she visited Star’s head office, I know she’s a very determined woman and I’m sure she’ll lead us to victory so I wish her the best of luck – we’re all rooting for the GB curling teams!”