TEAMS MUIRHEAD AND MOUAT SET FOR SLAM AND LAST EVENT OF SEASON
European Champions Team Muirhead will compete in the Grand Slam of Curling (GSOC) Champions Cup which gets underway tomorrow (24-29 April), their last competitive outing of the year before Skip Eve Muirhead undergoes hip surgery that she believes will help her go on to reach even greater heights in the game.
The event which takes place in Canada Park in Calgary has a stellar line-up and after reaching the quarter finals over a week ago at the GSOC Players Championships, Muirhead is as determined as ever to finish the season on a high note ahead of the planned keyhole procedure which she expects will see her 100% fit and better than ever for next season.
“We have had a great time in Banff for a couple of days r&r before flying on to Calgary for the tournament,” Muirhead said of their week off in between Slam events in Canada, after what has been a hectic schedule in a Winter Olympic year.
“The Champions Cup is a special Grand Slam event. With this being only the third year that it has taken place, you have to win a high calibre event in the season in order to qualify. Our European gold booked our spot.
“Competing in Grand Slams is as close to major events as you can get. Out here in Canada the crowds are great, ice conditions fantastic and competition very tough. GSOC events have been where I have learnt the majority of my curling at the top level and allowed to compete against the best teams in the world,” she said.
Team Mouat who have had their first taste of the Slams this year, winning the Boost National in their first season together to become the first Scottish mens team to win a Grand Slam will also compete in this event and their skip Bruce Mouat is also keen that they finish their impressive season with another strong performance.
“It should be a good event, there are lots of good teams coming into this plus some teams you don’t normally see at Slams. So it will be fun to play in and obviously being the last event of the season we want to do really well,” Mouat said.
Like Muirhead, Mouat reached the quarter finals along with fellow Scots and Olympians Team Smith in the previous GSOC event and for Mouat that event was preceded by their first appearance at a World Championships, where they won bronze. However for their skip Bruce there has been little room for downtime as he completes his final year of his degree (International festival and events management with entrepreneurship) at Edinburgh Napier University.
“During our week off before this Slam I was doing Uni work on my dissertation, but I did manage to spend my evenings relaxing and I had Hammy (McMillan jnr) for company so got some time to relax a bit,” he said.
The team are looking forward to fresh challenges in their final outing, taking on teams they have not faced before.
“We have never played Team Bottcher before – they got to the finals of the Briers this year, so are on a bit of form, but so are we, so we will take it to him and see if we can get a good result.
“The venue at Calgary is also new to most of us apart from Grant (Hardie) so that is always exciting playing somewhere new,” Mouat noted.
Team Coach Alan Hannah added: “We have had some practice at the Calgary Club and I am really pleased that the team has had a week’s break in between events after what was a tough schedule at the World’s and the Players Champs so the team can put everything into their last event of the season.”
Coach Alan Hannah
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Photos: Perthshire Picture Agency - Graeme Hart.