Eve Muirhead back on the world stage with one eye on the Olympics
After nearly 20 years at the top of the game, Eve Muirhead’s four-year wait to get back to a world championships is over.
The Perth curler will lead Scotland into the LGT World Women’s Curling Championships in Calgary’s Canada Olympic Park, starting on Friday with games against USA and Japan.
Despite the cancellation of last year’s event and more news breaking this week that additional testing is taking place at the quarantine hotel where incoming international teams are held ahead of joining the bubble, Muirhead can fall back on her vast experience in taking a philosophical approach to such developments.
“In the current climate it is very rare for any major event to go ahead without some sort of hiccup,” said the former world champion and three-time Olympian.
“You have to be prepared for this type of news and we have absolute faith in the decisions being made out here. I know Alberta Health and Curling Canada and the World Curling Federation are dealing with the situation and it shows that the quarantine processes they have in place work.”
Muirhead and regular team-mates Vicky Wright, Jen Dodds and Lauren Gray have been inside the Calgary bubble for two Grand Slam events, while alternate Sophie Sinclair has more recently flown to Calgary, along with Olympic head coach David Murdoch and English Institute of Sport physio Julie Stark.
“It was a challenge starting the international season this time at a Grand Slam, especially for me,” said Muirhead.
“I have been training for months with one set of ice conditions and then suddenly you are adjusting to new ice in a different venue among the best in the world with what is a very tough field. In many ways a Slam is a bigger challenge than the major events as all the very top teams are invited to them.”
The world championships are also a qualifying competition for next year’s Winter Olympics, with only six of the 14 teams involved avoiding the final qualifying tournament later in the year.
“The qualification process for Team GB is always in your head,” Muirhead admitted.
“So we feel that and we want to earn that place for Team GB at the Winter Olympics and it almost makes it like two separate competitions – to get the place and get into the play-offs to earn the right for the top spot at the worlds.”
On a personal level Muirhead is also relishing a return to world championship action.
“I have waited for four years for this and I was desperate to get back and the prospect of that first game is now really close and it is really exciting,” she said.
She acknowledged, however, that this will be a unique event.
“The absence of the big Canadian crowds is strange and I miss that as it always gave me goosebumps,” said the 31-year-old.
“However although it is so different we are very appreciative of the fact that we have this opportunity. Over the last year people everywhere have lost so much or made so many sacrifices and we are thankful that we have this chance to compete and to be doing something we love, so it is perspective.”