ENGLISH PAIR JOIN FRAY TO ADD TO BRITISH CURLING MIX
All three of British Curling’s Mixed Doubles teams will be in action this weekend as the English brother-sister combination of Ben and Anna Fowler make their competitive debut as members of the programme.
The Fowlers will be up against Scottish National Champions Fraser Kingan and Jayne Stirling as well as their compatriots Gina Aitken and Scott Andrews at the Austrian Mixed Doubles Curling Cup, hosted in Kitzbuehel which starts tomorrow (18 – 21 October 2018).
Having relocated from Kent to Stirling to be based close to her new training base at the National Curling Academy (NCA), Anna Fowler is excited about the prospect of making her competitive debut with her sibling.
“We're really looking forward to competing at our first World Curling Tour event of the season. It is especially exciting as we've done a lot of hard work on and off the ice to prepare and now we can put that to the test in Austria. There have been a lot of changes for us over the past few months, but thankfully we are seeing huge improvements in our game which puts all the hard decisions, relocation and new lifestyle into perspective,” said Fowler.
“We're extremely privileged to have such a fantastic support team behind us and such incredible facilities to train at; I know that this environment has really accelerated our progress and we can't wait to get stuck into the season."
Stirling and Kingan return to action after an impressive performance at the Audi Quattro Winter Games in New Zealand earlier this season, when they returned home with silver medals.
“We’re both really looking forward to getting back to competing after a very productive period of training,” said Stirling..
“Working with the Team Aitken/Andrews and Team Fowler both on and off the ice has put us in a really good place for our first event as a squad. The field is looking strong and we’re looking forward to some quality games.”
Sochi silver medallist Scott Andrews, who started competing in the new Olympic discipline when he paired up with four times Scottish Mixed Doubles Champion Gina Aitken at the start of this season said: “It will be good to get back into action with one Tour event already under our belts, when we reached the quarter finals at Oberstdorf in our first competitive outing together.
“We have been working hard since then and this tournament will enable us to gauge our progress as we face a strong field.”
Meanwhile, Aitken’s former Mixed Doubles partner, Bruce Mouat, who is focusing solely on his men’s team this season, returns to action in Canada with Grant Hardie, Bobbie Lammie and Hammy McMillan, competing in the Challenge de Curling de Gatineau in Quebec (18 – 21 October).
“The guys and I have made some quarter finals so far this season which has been good. We are looking forward to this event and the Grand Slam in Truro next,” said Mouat.
“The Slam will again be a great opportunity for us to put ourselves against the best teams in the world. They always provide an exciting atmosphere and it’s a great feeling playing in front of a crowd that creates such an enjoyable environment.“
Team Muirhead have also travelled to Canada and will compete in the Canad Inns Womens Classic in Portage before also heading on to the Grand Slam of Curling event in Truro. These events will be the team’s first tournaments in Canada this season and only the second competitive outing for skip Eve Muirhead who marked her recent return from rehab following hip surgery with an impressive quarter final appearance at the Stockholm Ladies Cup earlier this month.
“We have worked really hard in training both as a team and technically in our individual session with respective coaches,” said Muirhead.
“As a team we are looking forward to our trip to Canada to compete in Portage and the Grand Slam.
“We have been in Winnipeg for a few days training with our coach Glenn Howard and our strength and conditioning coach Dave Leith is also with us, as we prepare for the first competition in Portage kicking off Thursday.”
Muirhead’s siblings Glen and Thomas Muirhead, along with fellow Olympians and brothers Kyle and Cammy Smith, also make their second competitive outing of the season as Team Glen Muirhead, at the Curling Masters Champery (18-21 October).
“We are looking forward to Champery. Our first event in Basel helped us work out a lot of things as a new team and it was a good experience although we didn’t get the results we wanted,” said Glen Muirhead.
“We can move forward with more vision and focus, we can relate back to scenarios from our first completion and take that on board to improve on areas and the dynamic is good, the team is in good spirits and there are things we can improve on in Champery.”
Photos: WCF / Richard Gray and Jeffrey Au.