TEAM MOUAT TARGETING HAT-TRICK AT SCOTTISH CHAMPS
Bruce Mouat is targeting a third consecutive title when his rink get their campaign underway at the Scottish Championships in Perth this week (10th – 15th February 2020).
The Edinburgh based skip, who etched himself into the history books as the youngest skip to win a men’s Grand Slam title in the same year that his team won their first national title, regards the line-up this year as the toughest field he has faced yet during a Championship week at Dewars, all aiming for the most enticing prize of competing in a home World Championships.
“I think there are five or six teams that could easily win this week and in doing so, earn the right to represent Scotland at the Worlds, so we know it is not going to be an easy task to win our third championships. However we are excited about the challenge and all these teams are going to be playing well, so we will need to make sure we are playing at our best too.
“Everyone will be talking about how hard the Scottish will be to win this year, because there are so many good Scottish teams. So this one could be even more special if we win and getting to represent Scotland in Scotland is a very exciting prospect, so we want to be part of that, helping to grow the audience here for our sport.”
However for now Mouat’s focus is on his team’s efforts in Perth, with expectations on their shoulders as the top ranked team in the field.
“As much as that puts a bit of pressure on us being fourth in the world, it also gives us the confidence that if we play well we should really be going and winning this. There is always that tense atmosphere in the build up but as soon as you get there, you get into a groove and we hope to get into that groove quite quickly,” he said.
“The Masters is a great event with lots of strong teams there, this year especially and to come out on top was a great confidence boost for us and a great way for us to start our 2020. We hope we find that form again on the same ice, we want to have that burst of great play at Perth earlier this year to prove that we are still the best team in Scotland,” said the 25 year old.
Ross Paterson’s quartet, who were part of an historic first all Scottish final at the Boost National in 2018 when they denied Team Mouat from retaining their Grand Slam title, will be fierce rivals for the Scottish crown. Having represented Scotland at the European Championships earlier this season where they won bronze, Paterson is keen for his team to get back to international competition.
“Representing Scotland as a team was a great honour for us and has certainly given us additional motivation to wear that Scotland jersey again,” said the 35 year old.
“There are three teams in the top 20 world rankings at the Scottish this time around, plus all the top Scottish teams, so every game is going to be important. It is a great time for Scottish Curling and you would have to expect the programme supported teams to be in the mix at the end of the week.”
Glasgow born and bred, Paterson admits that competing in his home city at the World Championships next month is an enticing additional incentive.
“With my family connections to Glasgow obviously it would be a dream to compete in front of lots of friends and family and we have been working very hard to be in the best form we can be to contend for the title and that opportunity,” said Paterson.
Ross Whyte’s team of up and comers has been in formidable form in spite of making the transition to the men’s circuit at the start of this season and as a result has propelled his team up the World Curling Tour rankings to 15th in the world.
Team Whyte has reached the play-off stages of every event they have contested, including reaching back to back Tour finals and winning the second of those at the Prague Classic and going on to win the Dumfries Challenger series to round off last year.
They resumed that form when they returned to action at the start of the year in Perth, reaching another semi final at the Masters, however with two Tour titles under their belts this season already, they are proving to be a force to be reckoned with.
“We aimed for top 30 for our first year on the Men’s Tour as we did not expect to climb the world rankings as quickly as we have,” said the 21 year old skip, who is currently in his second year at the University of Stirling.
“We set our goals at the start of the season, planned well and made a huge commitment to the gym and our on-ice training sessions. We have high expectations of each other and I think our team dynamics plus our resolve to stick to what we said we would do, has been reflected in our results and our consistency has come from that commitment.
“We felt we had a good outside chance at the Scottish and we are not going to put too much pressure on ourselves, we planned to make a good attempt, hopefully make the play-offs and if we make the final that would be fantastic. We have had a great season so to top that off with a good performance at the Scottish, we would be really pleased with that and we intend to give it a good bash. “
Glen Muirhead’s 2018 Olympians, who just missed out in the best of three final of the Euro Play-offs in Perth earlier this season, will also be determined to make the most of their home ice advantage as they target a chance to compete on the world stage again.
“We lost out to Team Mouat last year at the Scottish Champs and just missed out at the Euro Play-offs to Team Paterson, so we really think the time has come to get ourselves into a winning position,” said 30 year old Muirhead, who has based himself in Crieff.
“We are aiming to get into the play-offs so we will have every chance at that stage and we are keen to go the distance this time around.
“Having competed at the Europeans in Braehead I know how special it is to compete in front of home crowds and it would be an excellent opportunity to represent Scotland in Glasgow and show everyone what we are capable of.”
Meanwhile another team of programme athletes, skipped by 24 year old Cameron Bryce have reached the play-offs at five tournaments this season and are also angling for a good finish.
“All of the preparations since July have been gearing us up for the coming week and the number of strong teams competing this year demonstrates how well the programme is working at the National Curling Academy in Stirling,” said Bryce.
“This is only going to push us on to try and be better than the other teams that have the same goal as us.”
The first round of men’s matches get underway on Monday night at 8.00pm.
Team Glen Muirhead
Please click here for results and the full round up on all the teams and the event from Scottish Curling.
Photos: © Perthshire Picture Agency - Graeme Hart.