David Murdoch awaits Glasgow world championships as test of transition from curler to coach

From left, Andrew Cromar, Councillor David McDonald, British national coach David Murdoch, Alison Barr and Sweep the Mascot at the Emirates Arena to launch the the LGT World Men's Curling Championship 2020. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS
From left, Andrew Cromar, Councillor David McDonald, British national coach David Murdoch, Alison Barr and Sweep the Mascot at the Emirates Arena to launch the the LGT World Men's Curling Championship 2020. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS
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Not every great player turns out to be a top manager and David Murdoch acknowledges the switch from curler to coach demanded a radical shift in his perspective, on and off the ice.

Experience acquired during a career that brought Olympic silver at Sochi 2014 plus two world titles, provides insight. But no divine right to mould others in his image.

Murdoch said: “Ultimately, you need to look at your style of coaching, your strategies, your policies that you want to go ahead.

“Coming from that athlete background gives me a slightly different outlook on where you want the sport to go, and some new ideas that I’m gradually trying to influence,” added the 41-year-old, British Curling’s national coach.

That big picture includes grand goals for the men’s teams he now oversees, including Scottish success at the world championships in Glasgow, which begin in exactly 50 days time.

Strength in numbers, he believes, can be a major factor. Four of the teams under Murdoch’s tutelage are in the top 30 of the World Curling Tour rankings. Glen Muirhead’s rink, who went to the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, are currently outside that mark.

Next week, they will all decamp to the Scottish Championships in Perth seeking a passport to the Emirates Arena for those world championships next month. The local battle on the ice will be ideal preparation, according to Murdoch for the global championship, which is in Scotland for the first time in 20 years.

“It’s a very unique opportunity,” he said. “One where it would come with immense pride to have that type of support and be in your home country to have the potential to win a gold medal on your home soil. So there probably is a bit of pressure on the team this week.

“Hopefully that raises the shot-making standard. Putting them under pressure is a good thing. It makes them battle hard for these championships and any future championships. So that big experience is invaluable.”

Based in Stirling, British Curling has reshaped itself by swiping Nigel Holl away from UK Athletics to become its de facto performance director. Yet it is away from base where much of the graft must be undertaken, with the world tour offering players the best means to hone their craft.

“We didn’t tour abroad,” said Murdoch. “Whereas these guys are away in Canada two weeks every month. So it’s a slightly different landscape now. But you see that with all the teams around the world are chasing these Olympic points and places. In doing that, it exposes them to the world’s elite.”

A solid showing is needed in Glasgow. The 2022 Winter Games in Beijing lurk around the corner which is where Murdoch’s transition will ultimately be judged. “This is the first year that Olympic points are up for grabs at the world championships,” he adds. “So it’s important we get off to a good start in Glasgow.”