Sunday, June 07, 2009

The Peak

The Peak, the new multi sports facility at Stirling, is very impressive. I enjoyed a short visit yesterday. The place was alive! There is a lovely pool, and the gym and the sports hall were in use. No one was on the climbing wall, which is right beside the cafe! Since it opened a couple of months ago, the whole facility has attracted many more visitors than had been predicted. And I can see why.

Four of the six lanes of curling ice were in use for a mixed seniors event, the ice of course also enjoyed by skaters and ice hockey players. The rink is a direct replacement of the old Stirling facility, but it seems much roomier.

The rink is overlooked by a viewing area with bar and restaurant.

A flipover rink presents many problems for the ice staff, but they had done a great job yesterday. The ice was keen, with a good swing. Here John Peters provides guidance for Sandra Peters and Hugh Stewart on Christine Stewart's guard.

The Olympic and Paralympic squads will use the rink for on-ice sessions over the summer months.

The next major event is the Skins, July 24-26. Contact Logan Gray at The Peak if you have a team which could be included in the draw. And put the date in your diary and drop in for a look.

In other curling news today is a story that appears to have belatedly escaped from the April 1 box, see it here.

The story suggests that IBM has announced plans to compete in the 2010 World Curling Championships in Cortina. Think about it. Curling is often described as 'chess on ice'. More than a decade ago, IBM’s famous 'Deep Blue' computer beat World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov in a six-game match. Now the company's 'Ice Blue' has the ability to perform about one trillion floating point operations per second (teraFLOPS), and will control small robots which will throw the stones and sweep the ice.

I explored the future of curling with the late Doug Maxwell, then Editor of the Canadian Curling News, in the late 1980s. Perhaps the current Editor of that publication (whose own fine blog will undoubtedly feature the IBM story this week) might find in his archive the schematic of one of the 'robocurlers' that made it to print.

But what a great idea, really. Every rink should have a set of computer controlled robots. The Royal Club should invest in a set, or three. It would solve the annoying problem of teams pulling out of competitions at the last moment without warning! The competitions' manager could just say, "Your opposition has not turned up. But, no problem. Your first game will be against the Spango Valley Screenshots. Don't be too hard on them."

I'll be looking for the news (soon) that the World Curling Federation is to appoint a 'robotic curling development officer'. Robocurlers rule the rink! Although I suspect that Cortina in 2010 might just be a bit too soon.

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