SCOTS TARGET HAT-TRICK AT GRAND SLAM EVENT
After an historic all Scottish men’s Grand Slam final at the Boost National last year between the 2017 winners and defending champions Team Mouat and compatriots Team Paterson who went on to win the 2018 title, both go into the event this week aiming to keep the silverware in Scotland for a third year in a row.
The tournament gets underway tomorrow (10-15 December) in Newfoundland and the high calibre line-up comprises 15 of the top men’s and women’s teams in the world, with European silver medallists Team Muirhead also flying the flag for Scotland in the women’s event.
As current champions, Team Paterson are keen to defend their title after enjoying a two week break following their bronze medal winning performance at the European Championships in Helsingborg.
“We are looking forward to getting started having enjoyed great success there last year,” said skip Ross Paterson, who works part time as a Trading Standards Officer when he is not competing on the ice.
“Winning the title last year in our first season together was tremendous. It was great getting our first win as a team, never mind it coming in a Grand Slam in Newfoundland where the crowd support made it a fantastic experience and something we would love to repeat if possible.”
The fifteen teams in each men’s and women’s division are divided into three pools of five for round robin play. Paterson’s rink will be taking on local favourites and two time former winner Team Gushue in their group and the Scot is relishing the prospect of facing the former world champion.
“Having Brad Gushue in our pool means you are guaranteed a good game with huge crowd support for their home grown favourite, so we are really looking forward to the opportunity,” said Paterson.
“It is great to be back on Tour and getting competitive again after a short break. Now it is almost the end of the year, we are inside the world top ten and are looking to push on with that and build some momentum into the New Year, when our sights will be set on the Scottish Champs and our next big target of representing Scotland at the world championships.
“This week our target is the National, as the Slams are such an important part of our season. With all the top teams playing in them, you want to make sure your team is one of them.
“We are looking to have a good week and qualify and would like to earn a spot at the premier Slam the Players Championships. We were there last year and want to make it on merit again this year as it is a great reward for playing well throughout the season, so we want to achieve that end of year goal this week.”
Bruce Mouat, who was the youngest men’s skip to win a title in the series as he led his rink to the first Scottish men’s victory at a Slam when they won the title in 2017, is keen to make another record by achieving a hat-trick in the event.
“Obviously every section is going to be tough with most of the best teams in the world competing this week, however we hope we find the form we demonstrated in our last two outings here to get to the final on Sunday for the third year in a row.”
Like her male compatriots, Eve Muirhead is also ready for her team’s return to Tour action this week.
“It is great to be at a Grand Slam event and returning to action on the back of winning that European silver medal,” she said.
“It maybe puts a bit of a target on our backs this week, but we thrive under that pressure and we are confident about knowing we can perform well in those conditions and knowing also we have beaten a lot of good teams to get here.
“It is our last event of 2019 and I can’t actually believe how quickly this year has gone. Soon enough we will be into the New Year with a lot of competitions coming up and the Scottish Championships, which is a very high priority for us as the worlds is an event that we are desperate to get back to this season.
“For now we would love to finish 2019 on a high and there has been a lot of Scottish and European success at Slams, especially for Scotland at the Boost National and hopefully we can continue that.
“I have played in a Slam before in St John in Newfoundland and I can tell you it is the best atmosphere I have ever curled in. It is such a great place and the crowds are phenomenal. Let’s hope the atmosphere will be the same as it really does make you want to curl well and hopefully all three of our teams can put on a good show this week.”
All three teams get their Slam campaigns underway on Wednesday (11 December) with defending champions Team Paterson taking on Team McDonald, 2017 champions Team Mouat facing another leading Canadian rink, Team McEwen and Team Muirhead meeting Japan’s Team Fujisawa.
Please click here for results from the Boost National.
Images: © Graeme Hart