Curling: Bruce Mouat in the hunt for world titles

Bruce Mouat will challenge for the world junior title and, with clubmate Gina Aitken, the world pairs title
Bruce Mouat will challenge for the world junior title and, with clubmate Gina Aitken, the world pairs title
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Murrayfield’s in-form curler Bruce Mouat will bid for at least two world titles in the new year after rounding off 2015 with a hat-trick of tournament victories.

The 21-year-old is the man with the Midas Touch having won the Forfar Open, the Scottish Mixed Doubles title (with club-mate Gina Aitken) and the Dumfries Challenger in a magical four-week spell culminating in last Sunday’s Dumfries final.

The former George Heriot’s pupil traces his golden run back to the Gatineau Challenge in Quebec in late October when he matured from a world junior medallist to a serious threat at senior level.

Mouat won six high-pressure matches before losing in the semi-finals to the world No.1 this winter, Canadian Brad Gushue.

“That was possibly the highlight of my season so far, playing big names that I’ve been watching for several years now,” he admitted. “We really showed what we’re capable of that week, and hopefully we can bring that form into 2016.”

Rather than resting on his laurels over the festive period, Mouat has already set his sights on retaining his Scottish junior title at Curl Aberdeen next month and going on to represent Scotland again at the World Juniors in Turkey.

“We’re not taking anything for granted, but there are probably four teams, including ourselves, who can win in Aberdeen,” he predicted. “There’s Cameron Bryce and Robin Brydone, and Ross Whyte has been playing well too. It was a good team performance last year and it’s the same venue again, so hopefully we can repeat that next month.

“We saw the qualifying tournament as the first of three stepping stones, leading to the Scottish finals and the World Juniors. This is my last year as a junior, so it would be a good one to win. We’re looking for the gold medal in Turkey, if we get there.”

Mouat is already guaranteed a shot at world glory after he and Aitken qualified for the World Mixed Doubles Championship in Sweden in April by claiming the Scottish title for the third time in four years.

“I’m going to be a very busy person for the next four months or so: playing, travelling, training and picking up ranking points,” he explained. “I believe the top 12 teams at the World Championships earn ranking points for the Winter Olympics in 2018, so we’re aiming to gain as many points as we can. We’re definitely looking to get to the quarter-finals and maybe even medal.”

Mouat thrived on a heavy schedule last spring, competing virtually every week, and he plans a similar approach in 2016, beginning at the Perth Masters on January 7. He and Dumfries skip Grant Hardie are also involved in a season-long battle for the Scottish Curling Tour title, while February brings the Scottish Men’s Championship in Perth. The winner there will represent Scotland at the big one, the Worlds in Basel, Switzerland in April.

“I expect big things from myself,” said Mouat. “I’ve had a really good run and I definitely believe I can compete at a high level. The new format this year means we didn’t need to qualify for the Scottish Men’s, so that gives us a weekend off to go training. It depends who’s on form that week, but I’ll hopefully be up there with the more experienced guys like David Murdoch, Tom Brewster and Ewan MacDonald, causing an upset or two.”

In additional to his curling commitments, Mouat must also find time to follow his third-year course at Napier University, where he is studying Festival and Events Management.

“I’m doing a six-month placement from March to August and I’ve got to write 10,000 words on it by September,” he revealed. “I’m trying to find a placement with sympathetic people who will allow me to continue curling, and British Curling are trying to help me too. Something in the sports event industry – like sportscotland – would be awesome, but I’m still looking.”