MUIRHEAD, MOUAT AND PATERSON SET FOR FIRST GRAND SLAM OF SEASON
Ross Paterson’s rink may have ended Team Mouat’s bid to defend their European title at the recent domestic play-offs, but he knows that will make their fellow Scots more dangerous opponents when they face one another at the Masters in Ontario, the first of this season’s Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling events, which gets underway this week.
Along with Kyle Waddell, Duncan Menzies and Michael Goodfellow, Paterson got the better of Team Glen Muirhead in the three match final after Mouat’s reigning European champions had been knocked out in the play-off round robin stages, which will only add to the growing rivalry between the rinks who contested the first ever all-Scottish Grand Slam final last season.
“We have a tough pool and we will be playing Team Mouat again and we know every game in a Grand Slam is hard playing against the best teams in the world, but we are definitely looking to continue the form from the last couple of events and we will take a lot of confidence from those,” said Paterson, whose team also came out on top in that Boost National final.
“We are excited about the first Slam of the season. We were lucky to play in some of them last year as a new team and winning the Boost National was a great achievement and, now we are back this year, we are looking to enjoy more success this time around. We are looking to have another consistent week and get ourselves into a play-off, as we want to be achieving at the Slams and we want to win more titles.”
Of the three Scottish quartets which get their Slam campaigns underway tomorrow, only Bruce Mouat’s men face two games on their first day of competition. They will meet Switzerland’s new European Championship representatives Team Schwaller, before taking on USA’s Olympic champions, Team Shuster, in their second outing. Mouat is aiming to feed off the Slam’s big arena atmosphere when battling it out against high calibre opposition.
“It is great to be in Canada again for the first of the Slams, they are always excellent events and can give you a lot of confidence going into the later part of the season,” said the skip.
“We are looking to kick start our season afresh and turn over a new leaf, because our results over the last few months have not been what we are looking for, after some good starts at events and then not finishing them off. The recent Baden Masters being a good example of that, we raced to the semi final and then hit a wall.
“I am hoping now to have some good consistent events while we are over in Canada for a five week trip and want to put down a marker and set a precedent for what we are looking to achieve this season.”
“There is always good spectator presence and that is good for us, as we are a team that likes the big arenas and we know we play some of our best curling in front of the big crowds, so we will use that and hopefully get some good successes while we are over here.”
Eve Muirhead is also anticipating this being an important event in the season for her rink, who, like Team Paterson, will be making their last competitive outing ahead of the European Championships in Sweden next month. Having reached the knock-out stage of the Canad Inns Women’s Classic earlier this week, she is keen that they utilise every experience of their three week Canadian campaign to prepare for the challenges ahead.
“We are pleased that we got to the quarter final of the Canad Inns, it’s a very high quality event given the teams that are there, but we are just a bit disappointed to lose out when we did, however we beat a lot of good teams along the way to get ourselves into the knock-out stages,” Muirhead said.
“For us it was good preparation for the Slam and I think the two events we have just played in will put us in good stead. Grand Slams are the pinnacle out-with the majors and it is at these events that we want to perform well at, as there are lots of ranking points at stake.”
The vastly experienced skip is also looking forward to seeing how the newest full time member of her team responds to the big time atmosphere.
"This will be Vicky’s (Wright) first taste of playing in a Grand Slam event. She is really excited about that and I am really excited for her. The best curling teams will be there, which helps make the Slams so great. The tickets have sold out for North Bay this week, so it is going to be some atmosphere in that arena,” Muirhead added.
All three Scottish teams will start their respective Masters campaigns, hosted at North Bay Memorial Gardens, tomorrow (23-27 October).
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Images: © Perthshire Picture Agency - Graeme Hart