EUROPEAN CHAMPS TEAM MOUAT SET TO DEFEND ABERDEEN INTERNATIONAL TITLE
European and Scottish Champions Team Mouat will make their last competitive outing ahead of the Men’s World Championships in Canada when they line up for the Aberdeen International, which gets underway tomorrow (14-17 March 2019).
Defending the title his rink won for the first time last year, skip Bruce Mouat knows his domestic rivals at this event will be every bit as challenging as the overseas contingent he will face in the coming days, as well as when he returns to his second World Championships.
“We really enjoyed this event last year and this will only be the second time we have competed in it, but it certainly provided an excellent preparation phase for our first World Championships last year.
“It has attracted a strong field again with Jason Gunnlaugson from Canada and Team de Cruz among a number of really good European teams, but we know that we have a lot of talent in Scotland now and those players are most likely to be there on the last day of this event,” said Mouat.
“With the three performance programme teams in the top 15 in the world, it demonstrates the competitive atmosphere we have created on the domestic scene and the National Curling Academy has been a key part of that. Each team is pushing each other on and provides a great environment to go out and compete with world class teams.
Glen Muirhead’s Olympians, who reached the final of the Scottish Championships as well as the Perth Masters at the start of this year, will be keen to reverse the fortunes of both of those finals against Mouat’s men.
“It takes the wind out of your sails for a few weeks after the disappointment of the Scottish, but we got straight back into training and we are looking forward to getting into competition again,” said Muirhead.
“I have always liked playing at Aberdeen, it is a really good event and looking at the draw there are three strong groups. If we can put in performances like our last two events in Scotland, I don’t think we will be far away and we will be looking to make improvements on what we do, so we are beating the top teams.
“With three out of four us in our team in new positions this year, I am pleased we got off the mark so quickly and it would be good to have a strong finish in our first season together,” he added.
Team Paterson, who became Grand Slam champions in their first season together, when they beat Team Mouat in an historic all Scottish final last year at the Boost National are also among the favourites for the event’s Bruce Ferguson Memorial Trophy.
Skip Ross Paterson said: “Our result at the Scottish was disappointing, but that is not going to define our season. We still have lots to play for and our aim is to continue to improve on our world rankings until the end of the season.
“We have this event, then the World Cup final opens up an extra incentive and we have got a place in the Players Championships where you have to earn the right to be in that Slam, which was a key target this year. We have achieved a lot this year, it does also show how strong the programme teams are when you look at targets achieved in first seasons’ together,” he said.
Programme athlete Robin Brydone, who reached the knock out stages of the Perth Masters and was the only skip to beat Bruce Mouat at the Scottish Championships is also in the line-up, comprising 18 teams in the triple knockout format tournament.
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Photos: Perthshire Picture Agency - Graeme Hart.