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Two-time world champion David Murdoch named Curling Canada high-performance director

Curling Canada has gone international to find a replacement for longtime high-performance director Gerry Peckham.
Scotland skip David Murdoch makes a shot during the 10th draw against Netherlands at the Men's World Curling Championships in Edmonton,Tuesday, April 4, 2017. Two-time world champion Murdoch has been named Curling Canada's new high-performance director. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Curling Canada has gone international to find a replacement for longtime high-performance director Gerry Peckham.

Two-time world champion David Murdoch, who has served as national and Olympic coach for British Curling since September 2018, was named to the post on Thursday. 

"The talent pool in Canada is incredible and you have incredibly experienced athletes and incredibly experienced coaches," Murdoch said on a video call. "But maybe there's something different that I hope to offer.

"I'm certainly going to do my best to make sure that that brings success."

Peckham, who spent over three decades with the organization, has been transitioning to retirement this season. He oversaw an Olympic/Paralympic program that excelled for many years but underperformed at top international events over the last two quadrennials.

Murdoch will begin his new duties for the permanent full-time position at the end of this season, Curling Canada said in a release.

"It was a very thorough, very objective process that was really looking for both technical skills and then the qualities and the values and the characteristics and traits that we thought would make a great leader in Canada," said Curling Canada CEO Kathy Henderson. 

"I think that went way beyond our borders. So that was really the approach."

Murdoch skipped Scotland to world titles in 2006 and 2009. He also skipped Britain to a silver medal at the Sochi Games in 2014, the last year Canada reached the top of the Olympic podium in four-player curling.

"There’s work to be done, but I feel that there are opportunities for growth and accountability and I believe the pieces are in place for Canada to excel on the world stage and to continue (to) meet the expectations of Canadian curling fans," Murdoch said.

Murdoch retired as a player in 2017 and moved into coaching. He helped establish British Curling’s National Curling Academy and has worked closely with Scotland's top teams.

Eve Muirhead won Olympic gold last year in Beijing and fellow Scot Bruce Mouat took men's silver. Mouat and Jenn Dodds just missed the mixed doubles podium with a fourth-place finish. 

“The Scottish teams have been playing at a very high level, and David clearly was an important part of that,” said top-ranked Canadian skip Kerri Einarson. “We’re looking forward to working with David and learning from him.”

Curling Canada started a high-performance program review last year. Canada's lone curling medal in Beijing was a men's bronze and the program's gold shutout continued at last season's world championships.

Canada won gold in the Olympic debut of mixed doubles at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games but missed the podium in the team events. 

Canada's last women's world title came in 2018, a year after the country's last men's world title. Canada's best result at the world mixed doubles championship has been silver (in 2017 and '19).

"You've got to push the boundaries in sport," Murdoch said. "I really believe that if we can focus on a few of those little marginal gains, we're going to be in a really good place."

Murdoch, 44, plans to move to Canada with his wife and three children after he starts his new role. His wife, Stephanie, is from Vancouver Island.

“We are so fortunate to have landed the most qualified high-performance director on the planet,” Peckham said. "His accomplishments as an athlete and as a coach are unparalleled. At this moment in time, I truly believe he is the best possible leader of our high-performance program. 

"It is an ideal opportunity for Canadian curlers to take advantage of the opportunity to learn from a world-leading performance expert.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 2, 2023. 

Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter.

Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press