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Scotland’s champion skips have admitted to disappointment at the latest cancellations of major international events, but have expressed determination to use it to fuel their motivation for 2021.

Bruce Mouat, whose men won their third successive national title this season, missed out on two World Championships earlier this year after he and Jen Dodds also won the Scottish Mixed Doubles title. However, he was philosophical after the latest announcement from the World Curling Federation saw the cancellation of five events, including the Le Gruyère AOP European Curling Championships which were to take place in Lillehammer in November (21-28 November).

“It is obviously disappointing, but given what has already happened in 2020 I don’t think it will have come as a big surprise to any of the competitors,” said the 26 year old skip. 

“It was a blow to miss out on the home Worlds and the Mixed Doubles with Jen, but we had to prepare ourselves for the possibility that the Europeans might not be able to take place, so I guess we have kept that in mind. However what is certain is our ongoing target and this doesn’t change our end goal.

“Normally we would have two months off ice and be raring to go again in July. Now it has been a much longer spell and I think it has fuelled that fire in us even more.

“Our team is hugely motivated by the chance to represent Scotland and our goal to represent Team GB at the Olympics will also spur us on.

“Of course there is still disappointment about the Europeans but we know how hard it is getting events back on ice. It will be the same for other sports too and for competitors around the world. However we are well aware that we have been in a fortunate position to be back on ice training.”

Podium and Performance Foundation teams have had access to on ice training at the National Curling Academy (NCA) in Stirling for several weeks now, thanks to the support of Active Stirling and sportscotland and Mouat knows that access will continue to provide more opportunities for them. 

“We have all adopted the new protocols, which has enabled us to get into the routine of on-ice training. We also have Mixed Doubles competition to look forward to each Friday. So that, as well as the standard of the teams on the programme, will enable us to have good quality competition to keep our progress on track,” he said.

“So for now, the aim is not to take the disappointment to heart, but to focus on the opportunities we have at the NCA with highly competitive programme teams to test ourselves against. Being back on ice each day at the NCA, with all the protocols keeping us as safe as possible whilst also staying as fit as possible, is a constant reminder that we are extremely well off and for that we should remain grateful.”

Mouat’s men had, at the Euros, been set to accompany Scottish women’s champions Team Muirhead, whose line-up includes his Mixed Doubles partner Dodds and their skip Eve Muirhead echoed his sentiments in vowing to ensure that they remain focused and resolute in targeting their goals. 

“We’re not overly surprised, but seeing the cancellation in black and white does make it sink in,” said the veteran of three Winter Olympics.

“We need to concentrate on the major events next year though and for now we will take every day and every week as it comes because there are so many unknowns.

“We’re very fortunate as a programme. British Curling has gone to great lengths to ensure we have this facility to train in, so we’re very lucky in that respect.

“The hard fact is that 2020 has just been a strange year and it’s not just us, but all 10 teams involved in the Europeans that have had to face this news which keeps it all in perspective. We just need to show how strong we are as athletes and things like this won’t put us off track for the future.”

Images: PPA Graeme Hart

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