NEW LOOK TEAM MUIRHEAD STARTS SEASON IN CANADA
Olympian Eve Muirhead and her re-shuffled line-up will get their season underway at the Oakville Fall Classic in Ontario this weekend (30 August – 2 September). The event marks the start of a three week Canadian campaign and the former world champion skip is relishing the prospect of leading them through it after missing the start of last season while recovering from hip surgery.
“For me the summer pre-season has been different this time as I don’t think I was even on ice this time last year, so it has been really good to get quality training in and put myself in good stead for the coming season,” she said.
“We have been on ice since July at the National Curling Academy and we have got to a place where we feel good mentally, physically and technically. I think it is time for us to hit some competition and it has come around at the right time for us.”
Their playing order this season sees Lauren Gray move to third, Jen Dodds to second - after long-term team mate Vicki Adams’ departure at the end of last season – with Vicky Wright at lead and Muirhead is keen that as the top ranked Scottish women’s rink they make their mark on Tour in the coming months.
“It’s the first trip of the season for us with a new combination and it is exciting to get back into competition mode to see where we stand right now in comparison to the top European and world teams competing at these events,” said Muirhead.
“It is important for us to put some markers down this season, after which we will be just two years away from Beijing 2022, which will come round very quickly.”
Muirhead's quartet will be targeting two more events in Ontario after the Oakville Fall Classic this weekend, heading on to contest the Stu Sells Oakville Tankard followed by the AMJ Campbell Shorty Jenkins Classic, which concludes mid-September before the team returns home.
“To head to Canada for three weeks is a big commitment and we will maintain that level of commitment for the next eight or nine months on Tour, as this is what we love to do. We travel out here to Canada to get the best competition and to play against the best teams. We are ready for this and now it is about getting the best out of ourselves,” Muirhead added.
Team Muirhead’s new coach Nancy Smith said: “This is an important year as the Olympic qualifying system for countries commences, so the girls have set goals they want to achieve not only for their team, but also to accumulate qualifying points for Team GB for Beijing in 2022.
“Eve and this new combination of positions, with Lauren as vice-skip and Jen and Vicky at second and lead respectively, have worked incredibly hard as they want to hit the ground running. It is a points chase at the start of the season to ensure places at the Slams and we want to qualify for as much as we can.
“We are extremely grateful that the support from UK Sport and the programme enables us to compete on Tour with this kind of schedule and this is a very determined group of players and it is time to test all that hard work on the competition circuit now.”
Team Bryce is representing Scottish interests in the men’s event, after opening the season at the Baden Masters in Switzerland last weekend.
Please click here for more information and results from the Oakville Fall Classic.
Photos: © Perthshire Picture Agency - Graeme Hart.