GUELPH, Ontario – Defending world curling champion skip David Murdoch of Lockerbie blasted Scottish authorities for today’s decision to cancel the Grand Match, the massive outdoor bonspiel which had excited curling’s home country.
“Quite frankly, it’s ridiculous,” Murdoch told The Curling News from Canada, where his 2010 Great Britain Olympic team is competing at The Swiss Chalet National, a Grand Slam of Curling event.
“The world’s turning into a strange place, isn’t it? You can’t do anything without someone saying you can’t do something.”
The coldest winter in decades had fed Scottish excitement over the possibility of the first Grand Match – featuring thousands of curlers playing outdoors on a Scottish loch – to take place since 1979. Mild winter weather had killed 30 years of previous effort to organize the Match.
Friday afternoon, officials announced the cancellation of the event, based on health and safety – and insurance – concerns.
“The ice is thick enough, it would probably take a truck to go over the top of it to crack,” said Murdoch, whose team had a 2-2 win/loss record heading into their final pool match on Friday night.
“It’s just disappointing. It’s a great opportunity for curling, the Olympics are coming, curling is in the headlines, and it’s the Grand Match… what a spectacle. It’s just one of the best things people could ever see.
“The chance is there, but obviously some people are too scared to let it happen.”
The Friday announcement from the Royal Caledonian Curling Club (RCCC) said “Following extensive discussions with a wide variety of interested parties including Central Scotland Police, The Fire and Rescue Service, the Scottish Ambulance Service, and Stirling Council it has not proved possible to address all health and safety concerns and receive the full backing of the Emergency Services within the timescales involved.”
Team Murdoch will also compete the following weekend at a made-for-television “skins” curling tournament in a large casino just north of Toronto, before heading home to compete in his Scottish men’s championships. Then it’s back to Canada for a training camp just prior to Vancouver 2010.
“I know they’re scared of what might happen but 30 years ago there weren’t any disasters,” said Murdoch.
“It will probably be another 30 years before we get another chance, now.”
[Capital One photo by Anil Mungal]