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British Curling has finalised its coaching team for the coming season 2020-21, with new recruit Kristian Lindström appointed as performance coach, joining an established management team as the elite programme gears up for the final countdown towards the Beijing Olympics in 2022.

The former World and European champion from Sweden, who won gold at the World Junior Championships when the event was hosted in Perth in 2011, will be working with Team Muirhead for the season ahead.

“To be joining the programme and relocating to Scotland to work with one of the world’s best curling teams is a great opportunity and one you don’t get too often and you have to grab chances like that when they come along,” noted Lindström.

He started working with the top ranked women’s rink as their tactical coach just before the Scottish Championships this year when skip Eve Muirhead lifted her eighth national title and was also preparing them for the World Women’s Curling Championships in Canada, one of the first major international events to be cancelled due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. Despite that setback, the combination has been put on a more permanent footing with the successful recruitment of Lindström to the programme’s existing coaching team. 

“I knew Team Muirhead competed at a high level but seeing them in action at a Grand Slam in January was a great motivator to be working with a focused and talented team who were getting better and better. I really felt the cancelled World Champs was a missed opportunity for them. It could have been something great for them,” said the 30 year old.

“However looking forward we have something special to build on in this next chapter and to be part of such a high calibre team it is an exciting period ahead to prove what they are truly capable of.” 

Alan Hannah, who has previously been involved with the programme and moved into a front line full time role as performance coach last year, will be looking to continue the success working with Scotland’s top ranked men’s team. Hannah has prepared Bruce Mouat’s quartet for the past three seasons, during which they claimed the first Grand Slam title to be won by a Scottish men’s team and won World bronze and European gold. After claiming their third consecutive national title this year, they too missed out on the opportunity to compete at their World Championships, which were to be hosted in Glasgow. However, they will be looking to build on those successes as well as their position in the top five teams in the world rankings.  

Sochi Olympic silver medallist Greg Drummond has continued his successful career within the integrated coaching team, sharing his world class expertise with athletes. He now joins forces with Team Paterson, the second Scottish men’s team to win a Grand Slam title, who went on to win bronze at the European Championships last season and are currently ranked 12th in the world. 

Nancy Smith who has worked with teams across five Olympic cycles and has been working with the programme since 2012 will share her wealth of experience with the newly formed women’s podium potential rink skipped by Gina Aitken.

David Aitken has meanwhile been appointed as the new Performance Foundation Manager, providing a key link in the pathway from Scottish Curling’s academies. The move will see Aitken utilising his proven management skills from his highly successful career in the software industry, combining business and commercial acumen with his sporting experience, having worked as a technical and team coach for the past decade, from juniors to seniors and steering teams to nine World Championships. 

“We have a really exciting and diverse squad of young players recruited to Performance Foundation programme this season who are the future of the game, no doubt with some future Olympians among them,” said Aitken. 

“Overseeing this programme and applying the principles and practices that apply to our podium supported teams to foundation curlers means that we have a pathway that provides coherence and consistency for all our athletes to aid their future transition to the top of the game.

“It is an exciting time to be taking on the management of this programme and building upon the solid foundations put in place by my predecessor David Ramsay.

“Providing best practice throughout the programme from entry level upwards ensures we are enhancing athlete progression to enable them to achieve the best possible outcomes by providing continuity throughout future Olympic cycles.”

Aitken will also be working closely with the rest of the performance coaching team as part of his remit. Team coaches for the Performance Foundation supported athletes will be announced shortly and Olympic Head Coach David Murdoch believes that the re-modelled team will enhance the British Curling programme.

“We have an established and highly accomplished team and the addition of Kristian and David overseeing the foundation pathway ensures we are providing the most effective way of delivering our world class performance programme,” said Murdoch, who oversees all aspects of the Olympic coaching programme. 

“The combination of coaching talent and commitment, allied to our innovative approach and additional expertise from our partner organisations, ensures we are giving our athletes the best possible prospects when competing on the world stage as we build towards the pinnacle of our game in Beijing in 2022 and beyond.”

Programme coaching team combinations overseen by Olympic Head Coach David Murdoch for 2020-21.

Team Muirhead: Kristian Lindström
Team Mouat: Alan Hannah
Team Aitken: Nancy Smith
Team Paterson: Greg Drummond
Performance Foundation Manager: David Aitken

Images: PPA/Graeme Hart

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