A CURLING revolution is taking hold in the region.
Team GB’s men will today go for gold on the ice at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
It comes after the women won a bronze medal yesterday, meaning Team GB has two guaranteed medals from the sport at this Winter Olympics.
Few are feeling the impact of the nation’s new love of curling more than Welsh Curling development officer John Stone, who organises taster sessions at Deeside Ice Rink.
He has been inundated with calls, with many desperate to try their hand at the brush-wielding winter sport.
Speaking to the Leader yesterday afternoon, Mr Stone – who has been involved in curling for more than 40 years – said: “I have been in front of my computer screen sorting out bookings since 8.30am in the morning and I haven’t moved.
“It’s good for us but we’ve only got limited space. We had this last Olympics where we had a massive response but I think we’re going to get a bigger one this time.”
Mr Stone said often the interest peters out, but he hopes the new buzz for the sport could help extend their memberships in the long run.
He believes people in the area are in privileged positions as Deeside Ice Rink has one of the few curling facilities in the Uk.
He said: “The nearest place to Deeside is Dumfries in Scotland. We have had people from all over the country calling up wanting to try it out.
“We only get ice once a week here because we have to have it specially prepared for ourselves – we’re hoping to do more but ice skating takes priority.
“We have to support ourselves financially but we do enjoy the sport and we have a number of club competitions in Deeside.”
Hugh Meakin, of the Welsh Curling Association, said the last Olympic boom in 2010 saw 168 people attend the Deeside taster session. Two are now part of the Welsh Development Squad, having represented their country at European level.
Deeside Ice Rink is the home of Welsh curling and Mr Stone said the national team was doing well. The men’s team, including skip Adrian Meikle, of Hawarden, and Rhys Phillips, of Mold, reached the European Championships last year.
It is hoped the 2018 games in South Korea could see the first Welsh Olympian curler.
‘Try curling’ sessions will be held at Deeside, with places nearly full up already.
They are on the four Mondays in March. For details call John or Ann Stone on 01244 810673.
l The men’s final is at 1.30pm today.