SCOTLAND’S GOLDEN GIRLS TEAM MUIRHEAD ARE CROWNED CHAMPIONS OF EUROPE
A stunning performance from Scotland’s golden girls Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams and Lauren Gray saw them lift the Le Gruyère AOP European Curling Championships trophy in St Gallen after beating Sweden’s Anna Hasselborg’s rink 6-3 in a thrilling final.
The gold medal winning Skip Eve Muirhead had said ahead of the final that her team would have to play the game of their lives in order to break Hasselborg’s phenomenal unbeaten run throughout the eight day tournament and that is exactly what they set out to do from the outset of their final encounter.
Both teams were restricted to exchanging singles over the first three ends, the fourth end was blanked before the Scots had an open hit for two to lead for the first time in the final. The Swedes pulled level with a single at the seventh and the Scots had a tough shot for two but claimed a single at the next. However a steal of a single at the ninth saw the Scots extend their lead and a brilliantly set up final end left the Swedes with no options despite having hammer and a further single for Team Muirhead meant Hasselborg’s quartet had to settle for silver for a second year in a row.
Skip Eve Muirhead said after claiming the title and her second gold medal in the championship: “This is my eighth medal at the Europeans and I think my sixth final so to manage to get gold is really, really special and I must pay tribute to all of those who have worked so hard to make this happen. It is a team effort and they have made us such a strong unit and we have had excellent support from the bench too which makes a massive difference during a long week like this.
“We learnt a lot during the week and we were able to fine tune things and it was hard to walk away with bronze in 2016, it is tough at the top but we are like night and day compared to where we were last year. All of that progress has contributed to this result and this puts us in an excellent place as we make our final preparations for the Winter Olympics next year at PyeongChang,” she said.
Reflecting on the final Muirhead said: “We had a fantastic start and then we came out even stronger after a great fifth end chat with our coach Glenn (Howard), we then had text book final ends and at the last Anna (Hasselborg) had nothing there at all as we had eliminated all the possibilities.
“As European Champions this is a terrific boost to us and puts down a marker to our rivals in South Korea next year and also shows that we are still building towards that goal and still improving as a team – we are loving all the challenges and will take them on as a team,” she added.
Anna Sloan who also claimed her eighth medal in the championships said after the game: “We would have walked away proud from that final whether we had won or lost after a performance like that and it is just perfect that we got a gold out of it.
“We were just youngsters when we won gold last time (in 2011) and I think we all thought there would be more gold’s in the trophy cupboard after that one. It has been a while and I guess that is what makes this very special and it is very important to us as a team being back on to the top of the podium,” Sloan added.
Vicki Adams - who like Sloan has been a long standing member of the team -claimed her seventh medal in the championships and Lauren Gray her second European medal after claiming bronze at Braehead – the year that she joined the team. A very modest Adams said afterwards, “I just go out there to do my job and I am delighted that we are champions.”
Tactical Coach Glenn Howard said: “It was one hell of a game. I am very impressed with the girls and they really showed just how well they can play when they are up against a team like that. We had a few dodgy ends but then some exceptionally well played ends in the later stages and it was all about sticking to the processes and the game plan.
“It was a litmus test this week at the Euros indicating what we needed to do ahead of the Olympics and I would say they are head and shoulders above where they were last year at these champs and this is a great way for us to progress towards PyeongChang,” Howard noted..
Muirhead added: “We have excellent coaches and Kelly (Schafer) our fifth has worked so hard behind the scenes for us and we are already seeing the benefits of having the National Curling Academy as our main training base for everything and that investment is making a real difference to elite curling in Scotland.”
British Curling Head Coach Tony Zummack said: “The team’s performance improved throughout this week and the result bodes well for final preparations for PyeongChang. It is a four year journey leading to the Olympics and having the NCA shows that every day can be a learning day and shows we are moving in the right direction for the 2018 Games.”
Team Muirhead are aiming to improve on their 2014 Sochi bronze medal and they will be joined by Team Smith as fellow Team GB standard bearers making their debut in the 2018 Winter Olympics. Smith’s rink will go for gold this afternoon as they play defending champions Team Edin from Sweden - who will be targeting for their fourth consecutive European title - in the final at 2pm (GMT).
(W)Scotland v Sweden 6-3
(M)Scotland v Sweden
(M)Scotland v Switzerland 9-8
(W)Scotland v Switzerland 7-5
Round Robin Overall results:
(M)Scotland 6 wins 3 losses
(W)Scotland 7 wins 2 losses
Day 6 Results:
(M)Scotland v Netherlands 5-2
(W)Scotland v Hungary 9-3
Day 5 Results:
(W)Scotland v Czech Republic 8-4
(M)Scotland v Switzerland 4-9
(W)Scotland v Switzerland 7-9
Day 4 Results:
(M)Scotland v Sweden 4-5
(W)Scotland v Turkey 8-3
(M)Scotland v Norway 8-7
Day 3 Results:
(M)Scotland v Germany 4-6
(W)Scotland v Italy 8-1
(M)Scotland v Slovakia 8-1
(W)Scotland v Germany 8-5
Day 2 Results:
(W)Scotland v Russia 8-7
(M)Scotland v Russia 5-3
(W)Scotland v Denmark 6-1
Day 1 Results:
(M)Scotland v Austria 7-2
(W)Scotland v Sweden 2-5
(M)Scotland v Italy 7-3
PHOTO: WCF / Richard Gray, Eakin Howard and Celine Stucki.