MUIRHEAD RETURNS FROM INJURY IN STOCKHOLM
Former world champion, 2014 Olympic bronze medallist and reigning European Champion, Eve Muirhead returns to competitive action this weekend at the Stockholm Ladies Cup in Sweden (5-7 October).
Muirhead who skipped her team to fourth place at the Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang earlier this year underwent hip surgery when she returned from Korea, and following a successful rehab period returns to the game ahead of schedule.
British Curling National Coach David Murdoch, who won silver when he last represented Team GB at the Winter Olympics in 2014, said: “Eve has approached her rehab period in the same manner as she competes as an elite athlete. Her relentless dedication combined with the excellent knowledge and expertise from my colleagues at the sportscotland Institute of Sport has helped to contribute to her return to the game sooner than we had anticipated.
“Portage in Canada had been the target event later this month, however a concerted collaborative approach between the support staff working closely with the coaching team, as well as tapping into additional expertise from Bisham Abbey, has resulted in an earlier debut this season for Eve and I know her team are delighted to have her back,” he said.
Eve Muirhead said of her phased return in Sweden: “To have the green light to compete again is very special to me. I have worked very hard alongside a very specialised support team to get back to this stage.
“With some patience, perspective and unbelievable support from my team and family I am delighted to have made this stage a little ahead of schedule,” she said.
Muirhead’s older brother and fellow Olympian Glen Muirhead is also set for a return to action, as he skips three of Team GB’s 2018 representatives as the new line-up make their season’s debut this weekend at the Swiss Cup, hosted in Basel.
The eldest of the current generation of the Muirhead curling dynasty was the fifth man when the GB men’s team finished fifth at their first ever Olympic Games earlier this year and he is joined by his PyeongChang team mates, younger sibling Thomas and brothers Kyle and Cammy Smith.
“It will be good to get into our first event, we have had a good pre-season and have been throwing well during practice. so now we are all keen to get going in competition to see where we are at,” said Muirhead, who will also be making his debut as skip at this level.
“With the introduction of the five rock rule in the game, everyone is getting used to making changes, so for me it is a good time to start skipping when we are all starting afresh.
“It has been a while since I last skipped a team, which was at juniors and it is something I have wanted to go back to and with a number of other line-up changes in the team, this is a good a time as any to start,” he said.
Kyle Smith, who was skip of the Olympic side that won silver at the Europeans last season, moves to third, Thomas Muirhead who played third last year will now play at second and Cammy Smith retains his position as lead.
“There is a lot of history with those players competing at the high end of the game and we all clicked last year and it is important to have that, getting on well both on and off the ice . You have to make the shots, but getting the team dynamics sussed is important and it is a good team in terms of those attributes.
“We are the last (British Curling) programme team to get started this season and I always like going to Basel with its triple knock out format and the clear cut nature of it, so you know exactly how you can proceed to the qualifiers.”
National champions Team Mouat, who achieved a third place finish at the first ever World Curling Cup hosted in China last month, will also be in the field.
“We made it to the quarter finals last year and were beaten by Thomas Ulsrud’s rink and it will be a strong field again this time around.
“With the two other Scottish teams also playing this weekend, it will be interesting as we have not played them yet and it is always good to get a test on Tour before we eventually meet at the Scottish Championships,” said the Edinburgh based skip.
One of Mouat’s quartet, Hammy McMillan jnr was a member of Tom Brewster’s rink when they won the Swiss Cup back in 2014, along with the Muirhead brothers and Ross Paterson. Now rivals, Paterson is now skipping his own team which will also be competing in Basel and said: “It was good to win this title with Tom (Brewster) a few years back and it will be great to be back in the fast and furious nature of the triple knock out competition.
“Basel is the one in the calendar that everyone looks forward to as it has a really good atmosphere and is a really well run event. It is always a tough field and everyone will be scrambling for points, so like the other Scottish guys we will be battling for every game,” he said.
British Curling is also represented by Team Jackson this weekend, who like Team Muirhead will be competing in Sweden.
Jackson’s rink, who recently recruited Olympian Tom Brewster as their coach, are keen to utilise his expertise this time around, having reached the qualifying stages last year before losing out to eventual champions Team Paetz, from Switzerland.
Skip Sophie Jackson said: “We are really happy to have Tom on board as our new team coach, are looking forward to the experience he will bring to the team and feel very privileged that he is working with us.
“Stockholm will be the first event Tom has travelled with us to so this will be a good starting point to build the relationship and let Tom observe us in a competitive setting,” she said.
“We really enjoyed the Stockholm event last year where we reached the quarter final, we have a tough section this weekend, but that is good as we will undoubtedly have some high quality games, which are of a lot of value to us to put into practice what we have already been building on.”
British Curling Photos: Perthshire Picture Agency - Graeme Hart.