FINAL PRE-OLYMPIC OUTINGS FOR TEAM GB CURLERS
Team GB’s men’s and women’s curling representatives are, this weekend, both taking part in their final competitions before heading to the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.
For the women’s quartet of Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams and Lauren Gray there is an opportunity to capitalise on home advantage and weigh up some of the opponents they will meet in South Korea next month as they defend their title at the Glynhill Ladies International at Braehead and they are excited by the prospect.
“Glynhill Ladies International has become a bigger and better event every year and having won it for the first time last year we are delighted to play again this year,” said skip Eve Muirhead.
“This is our last tour event before the Olympic Games and what better place to play than on home soil in Glasgow. The organisation of the event and organising committee are the best I’ve ever experienced and it’s a pleasure to play in the event.”
As well as Olympic rivals Team Moiseeva from Russia, Team Wang from China and Team Pilsen from Denmark, they are up against two more teams that are currently on the British Curling programme, Team Fleming, who were beaten by Team Muirhead in the final of last year’s Scottish Championships and Team Hamilton, who are led by one of Great Britain’s Olympic bronze medallists in Sochi.
“We are really looking forward to competing again this weekend. Last weekend in Bern did not go as we had hoped so we are looking to have a solid performance this weekend ahead of the Scottish Championships which will be our next competition,” said their skip Claire Hamilton.
“We always look forward to competing in Scotland so it will be good to do this for the first time this season. Good to see that the Glynhill continues to attract such a strong field.”
Kyle Smith’s Olympics-bound men’s rink which also contains his brother Cammy, Kyle Waddell and Thomas Muirhead, are meanwhile among three Scottish teams heading for the German Masters in Hamburg.
“We are looking forward to our last event before the Olympics. We have played in Hamburg the last two years so know what to expect,” said their skip.
“This is our last chance to have some competition games to test ourselves, so we hope to play of a high level and to continue to work on improving the areas our team has been focusing on in practice since the Perth Masters event.
“We have had a pretty solid standard of play the last three events, so we hope to build on that in Hamburg and set ourselves in a nice place for the Olympics which are just around the corner now.
“We have had some good team sessions and individual practice has been going well- aided nicely by having Viktor with us since just after the new year which really is helping to maximise the quality of our sessions.”
Four of the Scots who claimed silver medals in the men’s event at the Sochi Winter Olympics are also in action in Hamburg, with Greg Drummond skipping a quartet which also includes Michael Goodfellow, as well as Ross Paterson and Gregor Cannon, while Tom Brewster is accompanied by Scott Andrews as well as Alasdair Schreiber and Duncan Menzies.
“This is our last event before the Scottish Championships so we will use it as an opportunity to fine tune our game and develop the things we have been working on in training,” said Drummond.
“The event falls at a really good time in the curling calendar and as ever they have attracted a high quality field which is sure to challenge us in the right way as we close in on the business end of the season.”
Brewster is similarly targeting the national championships, the winners of which will take part in a play-off with the Olympic teams to decide who represents Scotland at this year’s World Championships.
“It’s a good chance to finalise preparations and work on any small points which arose at the Perth Masters for the Scottish,” he said.
“The ice conditions are very different in Hamburg to what we will face in Perth which can have an impact on technique and shot selection which then influences tactics, so making sure this does not alter our mindset and preparation for the Scottish can be the biggest task of the weekend.
“It’s not an event I have had very much success in over the years so hopefully we can put in some solid performances.”
Another of the British Curling men’s rinks is meanwhile across the Atlantic, Bruce Mouat and his team-mates Grant Hardie, Bobby Lammie and Hammy McMillan having earned the right to play in the Meridian Canadian Open, largely as a result of having won three titles in Canada in this, their first season together, including becoming the first Scottish team to win a prestigious Grand Slam title.
“We are looking forward to playing our second Slam of the year, playing the best teams in the world. The slam will benefit us by playing competitive games again before the Scottish Championships next month,” said skip Mouat.
Please click here for results and more information from the Glynhill Ladies International (18-21 January)
Please click here for results and more information from the German Masters (19-21 January)
Please click here for results and more information from the Meridian Canadian Open (16 – 21 January)
PHOTOS: Team GB Curlers - copyright Alan Peebles Photography
Greg Drummond and Team Brewster images - copyright Perthshire Picture Agency – Graeme Hart.