The Yara Farmers' Curling Championship is in its 32nd year and continues to be a major showcase event - Europe's largest competition - attracting some of Scotland's top players.
A Scottish game
Curling was invented in medieval Scotland and the word “curling” can be traced back to the Scottish city of Perth. It is here, in this bustling city on the banks of the River Tay, that some of Scotland’s best curling teams meet once a year to compete in the popular Yara Farmers’ Curling Championship, sponsored by Yara International.
This year's event brought 76 teams and more than 300 curlers to Perth – a former capital of Scotland with some 50,000 inhabitants.
"It is the friendship and fun that has made organizing this event so memorable,” says Yara Area Manager Alan "Woodie" Wood, who has been in charge of the event for the past 32 years. “It has been a pleasure to organize every single one of the championships, from the first to the 32nd,” he says, adding that the curling tournament is one of the reasons he decided to postpone his retirement.
Popularly called the “roaring game”, due to the sound the stones make when sliding on the ice, curling is highly popular among Scots, but also Scandinavians, Swiss and Canadians. It is an interactive sport, and covers a range of experiences: leadership, communication, trust, problem solving and decision making. In Scotland, it is particularly popular among farmers.
Popular among farmers
"From a corporate perspective, curling is unique to Scotland in being a farmer-focused winter sport," explains Yara UK Marketing Manager Rosie Carne. "The competition is seen as a prestigious event and has gained appreciation within the farming community,” Crane says. “The Scottish farming publications follow the competition closely and regional publications like to feature their local farmers – this gives good promotion to Yara."
The Yara Farmers' Curling Championship was originally a knock-out competition, but had become such a popular, well-attended and high-caliber event, that the format was modified, with preliminary group winners going on to contest the High Road, and runners-up fighting for the Low Road title.
"This keeps the camaraderie and excitement of the competition alive right down to the last game, the final ends and shot," says Alan Wood.
The Yara UK website had reserved content space so that spectators and competitors alike could stay up to date with the latest results and competition tweets of the 2015 championships.
This year’s edition delivered on excitement, with the team led by James Stark - looking for a third successive title - forced to settle for second place behind Allan Marshall's squad when a perfectly placed stone took the Championship. Like many Scottish kings before him, Marshall and his team were crowned in the city of Perth.