LAST OUTING FOR MIXED DOUBLES PAIRS AHEAD OF WORLD CHAMPS
Olympic silver medallist Scott Andrews is pleased to be back to full fitness as he and his partner Gina Aitken prepare for their last competitive outing in Switzerland this weekend, ahead of the World Mixed Doubles Championships next month.
Andrews switched to Mixed Doubles at the start of this season and won his first title in the discipline in Sochi last year before sustaining an injury. Since then his rehab has been carefully managed to ensure he is ready for the World Championships in Stavanger in April and the Peugeot Mixed Doubles Masters, which gets underway in Biel tomorrow, is one of the final tests of that preparation.
Andrews, who hails from Ayrshire said: “It has been a frustrating time but thankfully after a lot of hard work I am good to go and I am feeling 100% and it is great to be feeling strong and confident about what I can do on ice.
“It will be good to be competing again, last weekend in Dumfries we were just the wrong side of the inch with our shots but it really helped us to fine-tune a few things. This weekend we will be playing the Swiss team in our opening game and they will also be at the Worlds, so it will be interesting to get the chance for a match against them ahead of that,” he added.
The inaugural four day elite curling tournament has attracted 32 teams and will be hosted at the Tissot Arena from tomorrow until Sunday, when the medal matches will be played (28 – 31 March).
“The venue for this event is actually their equivalent of the National Curling Academy (NCA) where their top teams train, so it is a great arena and I am really looking forward to getting going now. The format of this event will also be similar to the Worlds, so the last 16 have an extra qualifying game ahead of the quarters, so another reason why this will really help our preparation. Gina and I know we are working well together and getting some wins under the belt ahead of the worlds would certainly be a welcome confidence boost,” said Andrews.
For brother and sister duo Ben and Anna Fowler, this will also be their last event ahead of their World Championship campaign in Norway, where they will be representing England. Team Fowler are the first English athletes to be selected onto the British Curling programme and relocated to Scotland this season in order to maximise both the year round services and coaching from the elite curling programme based at the NCA.
“There have been obvious improvements in our results this season and now we have the chance to bring everything together and put all that hard work into action in our last event before the Worlds,” said Anna Fowler.
“It also gives us more exposure to some international teams we have not played before, so this will be a good event for us. “
Team Fowler will be aiming to continue the form that saw them enjoy a podium finish last weekend in Dumfries, while the third British Curling pairing, Fraser Kingan and Jayne Stirling - who finished runners up in that Dumfries international event – are also in the field this weekend.
Jayne Stirling said: “We are really pleased with our result in Dumfries and felt like we were finding consistent form following an extended period of training at the NCA.
“It is a large field and a lot of high quality teams in Biel this weekend and we will be looking to maintain our consistency and finish off our competitive season on a high, “she said.
Photos © Perthshire Picture Agency - Graeme Hart.