EUROPEAN CHAMPS AND GRAND SLAM WIINERS TARGET SCOTTISH TITLE
Defending champion Bruce Mouat believes his team need to be on their best form for the Scottish Curling Championships this week due to the current strength of fellow British Curling programme teams.
“This is going to be a really hard nationals to win. There are a number of teams in Perth this week that could win and go on to represent Scotland at the world championships and represent Scotland well,” said Mouat, whose rink also won the European Championships earlier this season.
“There will be less room for mistakes and it is one week in a long season and whoever is on their game will win the championships and we intend to come out firing this week.”
Mouat’s men made their mark on the domestic and international scene last year, accumulating Tour titles before entering the history books as the first Scottish men’s team to win a Grand Slam at the Boost National. They won bronze at their first world championships in Las Vegas last year and have their sights and hearts set on returning to those championships this year.
“We were the first men’s team to win a Slam and it is great to have that achievement, however we are not the last team to win a Slam and we still have to perform well, as we want to be at the worlds and have to win this week to earn the right to go there,” he said.
“The opportunity to represent Scotland in Canada is what I have always aspired to and I am sure it’s what others want too. So it is going to be an exciting week, there is a competitive atmosphere among the teams bred from all the successes we have had at major events. We will stick to our procedures from the Europeans and hopefully that will give us the same level of success.”
Ross Paterson who has been skipping a new line-up this year has also enjoyed success on the Tour circuit and having taken Mouat’s title from him when they met in the first ever all-Scottish final at one of the prestigious Grand Slam events in Canada in December, he will be keen to repeat that outcome this week. Paterson was the fifth man for Team Mouat at the worlds last year and for Team Murdoch the year before, so he is determined to make it there under his own steam this time around.
“The strength of field is high this year and having three teams inside the top 20 and two inside the top ten speaks volumes about the talent in the programme, so we know what a tough task the week ahead is going to be,” said Paterson.
“As a new team we had our first win together at the Slam against Bruce, but we also lost out to Glen (Muirhead) at Penticton, so we know what that feels like too. We won’t under-estimate any of the Scottish teams this week, but we will use those positive and negative experiences to help us to progress this week,” said Paterson.
Winter Olympic duties meant Team GB representatives Team Smith were notable omissions from the starting line-up last year and now re-formulated, with Glen Muirhead moving from alternate to skip and Kyle Waddell having joined Team Paterson, the Perthshire-based quartet are keen to make local knowledge count.
“It is our home turf at Perth so we would like to think that gives us an edge as we have all grown up training and competing here, but I guess we cannot take anything for granted and we have not competed since the Perth Masters,” said Muirhead.
The home favourites at the Masters lost out to Mouat’s men in the hotly contested final, but after a number of weeks’ training at the venue, most recently with their new coach Al Hackner, Muirhead is keen to get going on the competition circuit again.
“We need to buckle up from the word go in order to get to the play-offs this week and we won’t be fazed by anyone, but we know we need to play at our best,” he said.
“We would have liked a bit of a lead in to this event with another tournament to get us game ready, but we have been working hard with Al and that has helped get us into the competitive mode and we are ready to go.”
Programme supported athlete Robin Brydone, who reached the semi final at the Perth Masters last month, is also locally based and skipping a rink in the eight team mens event. They face Team Mouat in their opening game.
Scottish Curling’s national championships will be hosted at Perth’s Dewars Centre (10-16 February) and tickets are on sale for the finals on Saturday 16th February. The women’s final takes place at 11.00am and the men’s final is at 4.00pm.
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Team Glen Muirhead
Photos: Perthshire Picture Agency - Graeme Hart.