EURO CHAMPS TEAM MOUAT AND TEAM MUIRHEAD SET FOR WORLD CUP 2
Fresh from their successful European gold medal winning campaign, Team Mouat and last year’s European Champions Team Muirhead take on their next challenge against the world’s best curlers for the second leg of the Curling World Cup in Omaha (5-9 December).
The Curling World Cup Series billed as ‘where the greatest collide’, was introduced earlier this season with the inaugural event staged in September in Suzhou, China. Following the US event which gets underway tomorrow, the series moves on to Sweden in January, with winners from each stage plus hosts China taking part in the grand final in Beijing, in May.
Mouat’s rink, having recently returned from their victory in Estonia are keen to prove themselves in a field which includes John Shuster’s 2018 Olympic champions, who will be hoping to benefit from the strong support of a home crowd.
“We had a great championship at the Europeans and we love the big events and arenas and winning the gold, we are over the moon about that,” said skip Bruce Mouat.
“In the final we probably had our best game of the competition against Sweden, really proved that we are one of the best in Europe and now we are looking forward to Omaha and trying to win on that world stage.”
Reflecting on their first experience of a Europeans, the team’s third, Grant Hardie, said: “We really brought our best to the game in the final when the pressure was at it’s most. I am delighted that we were all able to perform when we had to play at our best, to beat arguably the best team in the world at the moment.”
Whilst Tallinn represented a brand new challenge, the second leg of the World Cup however is not uncharted territory for the newly crowned champs, having experienced the new format earlier this year as skip Bruce Mouat observed. .
“We know what we are getting this time with the first event having been held in China at the start of the season, which was a great event so we are looking forward to being in another championship arena,” he said.
“With John Shuster competing we are expecting lots of home interest in the crowds at this event and more interest in curling as a result over there.
“We are also looking forward to playing against some of the teams we have maybe not had much exposure to this season, like Jason Gunnlaugson, Shuster and Thomas Ulsrud, three great teams. We are obviously on a bit of form now so we are going to be fighting hard for that spot in the final,” he added.
Regarding the new rules introduced at the World Cup Series to create a different pace to curling, with the four minute per end thinking time, eight end matches and no extra ends, the skip added: “In China we worked pretty hard to make sure we were being decisive and making some quick calls so we will be doing that again and aiming to win the draw shot.
“We are then looking to qualify from our group and top our group and that would give us a spot in the final and we will be working hard to make sure we win the final. We know there are a lot of good teams there but we are starting to prove ourselves as one of those teams.
“Sweden are in the other section, so if all goes to plan there is the possibility of a face off in the final, which would be nice as we would be able to prove it wasn’t just a one-time thing that we did at the Europeans,” said Mouat.
Former world and European Champion Eve Muirhead is looking forward to making her debut at the World Cup, as her team competed without their skip at the opening event in Suzhou.
“I have heard a lot of really good things about the World Cup and for me obviously missing out in China it is exciting to get the chance to play in Omaha. As always it is a tough field out there and a lot of tough games, we are building post Europeans and looking forward to the challenge.
“I think it is fantastic what the World Curling Federation is doing with the World Cup Series and the new format. I think the Grand Slam Tour and World Cup Tour are putting curling on the map and not just putting curling on the map in Canada, but around the world.
“Many of the Asian nations are investing heavily in the World Cup and curling in general with the Olympics having been staged in Korea and now heading to China, Tokyo and then Beijing, so for us to get the chance to be part of that is really good.
Commenting on getting familiar with the new quirky format, Muirhead commented:”I think it is exciting and always makes it a bit different when rules are different and the time per end will make for some speedy curling and some speedy decision making and with no extra ends you have to change maybe the way you call the last few ends, the tactical side of it. It’s exciting and I like it when there is a bit of change.”
Reflecting on the season to date and having now gained time with her new look team following the European championships, Muirhead added:“Its been a tough summer, but we have to look at the big picture. To qualify Scotland at the world championships during the Europeans was a number one priority and we achieved that and having had time to reflect, the team is in a really good place and we are looking forward to our next events.
“Rehab has gone excellently and I have a great team behind me to make sure I am in the best place possible. That is still ongoing, It is all about patience as well. As a team of course we want to win every event we play in, but the bigger picture is the Beijing Olympics in 2022, for that I want to be as fit as I can be.”
The second leg hosted at the Ralston Arena concludes on Sunday 9 December with finals between the group winners following a double round robin tournament. Teams can win a prize pot of $USD 66,000, the first time athletes can earn prize money whilst representing their country. Matches will be live streamed on World Curling TV and youtube, facebook and Twitter.
British Curling Photos: Perthshire Picture Agency - Graeme Hart.