EDMONTON, ALBERTA, November 5, 2009. It’s official! Canada’s top curlers have a new place to hone their skills as they prepare for the 2009 Canadian Curling Trials, the 2010 Olympic Winter Games and beyond.
The Canadian Curling Association (CCA) and the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation have signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) to collaborate on a National Training Centre focused on high performance athlete development. The National Training Centre (Edmonton) will be based at the University’s Saville Sports Centre.
The CCA and faculty have built a strong, productive relationship since 2003 when the Saville Sports Centre opened at the U of A’s South Campus. The MOA strengthens this relationship and sets the stage for advanced training opportunities for top flight curling athletes. It also means increased opportunities for sport science research in the faculty in areas like biomechanics, exercise physiology, sport psychology, coaching education and sport fitness.
As a National Training Centre, the Saville Sports Centre will be a leader in developing and delivering training programs directed at high performance athletes in the sport, according to Mike Mahon, dean of the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation.
“The Saville Sports Centre has long been acknowledged as the finest curling facility in Canada,” said Mahon. “As a National Training Centre, the Saville Sports Centre will continue to expand its influence in the sport as the hub for athlete development in Canada, underpinned by the vast body of expertise and knowledge in this field embodied in the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation.”
NTC Edmonton provides athletes with advanced training opportunities in individual, team and training camp settings from July through April, under the leadership of head coach Rob Krepps. To date there have already been over 40 visits from national team curlers and more are expected as preparations escalate for the Canadian Curling Trials and the Olympics.
The CCA’s director of high performance, Gerry Peckham said, “We have established an ideal training environment at the Saville Sports Centre in that we have a world class facility, the best possible ice conditions, the latest in technology, and the U of A’s sport science expertise. It’s all being coordinated by Rob Krepps, who has emerged as a true student of performance and one of Canada’s premier coaches.”
Athlete response has been positive. “The athletes who have come through our National Training Centre to date are like a who’s who of Canadian curling,” said Krepps, who is also the Saville Sports Centre’s curling manager. “We’ve made a concerted effort to provide them with the best possible technical and tactical support, and have been impressed with how open athletes have been to feedback and suggestions.”
High performance teams including Kevin Martin’s two-time defending Brier Champions use the training centre. “We’re very lucky to be based here in Edmonton and to have access to the Saville Sports Centre on an ongoing basis,” said Martin. “In addition to the first-class practice ice they prepare for us, and their innovative technology, our team appreciates having access to the on-site fitness centre.”
The NTC Edmonton attracts teams from other cities as well. Jennifer Jones’ two-time defending Scotties Champions have made several training trips from Winnipeg since July. “Our team really gets a lot out of our trips to Edmonton,” said Jones. “The coaching support, ice conditions and on-site technology is world class and we believe an essential element to our success.”
Edmonton businessman and philanthropist Bruce Saville, whose contribution made the construction of the Saville Sports Centre possible, said, “This designation will extend our reach to elite curlers across the country and will contribute to Canada’s future success internationally. I want to thank the U of A and the CCA for their efforts to bring this about, and to offer a warm welcome to all elite curlers who come here to train, learn and improve.”