Eve Muirhead: Top things to know about Team GB's curling super skip

Scottish curling skip Eve Muirhead is set to lead Great Britain's women again at Beijing 2022, here are a few things you might not know about the three-time Olympian.

By Ken Browne
Picture by 2018 Getty Images

Eve Muirhead is a stone-cold curling legend.

At 24, she was already Team GB skip at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games, and four years later became the youngest skip in history to win an Olympic medal when she led the British to bronze at Sochi 2014.

World champion in 2013, and a three-time European champ, Muirhead has been a curling star from a young age, when she claimed four World Junior Curling Championships titles, putting powerhouses like Canada and Sweden on alert.

But it hasn't been a glide for Muirhead. At PyeongChang 2018, her Great Britain women's team finished in fourth, losing out in the semi-finals to Sweden, and then in the bronze medal match to hosts Japan. Qualification for Beijing 2022 was even looking in doubt for a while.

Injury and surgery kept her off the ice for some time too, but back with a brand new all-Scottish team of Vicky Wright, Jennifer Dodds, Hayley Duff, and fifth player Mili Smith, Muirhead guided her rink to the 2021 European title in Lillehammer in November. In the process they defeated reigning Olympic champions Team Hasselborg, and the winners of the last two World Championships, Team Tirinzoni.

"Pizza champagne and tears" were flowing after European glory and Olympic qualification, Muirhead said in her weekly column in The Courier, adding that "a fourth Olympics will be extra special."

So we all know what a great curler Muirhead is, but did you know she's a world-class bagpiper too? Read on for more amazing things you might not know about her.

1. Eve Muirhead: Curling from the crib

Curling and farming are the two biggest topics of conversation in the Muirhead household. A young Eve was introduced to the sport by her father Gordon, who's a two-time world championship silver medallist.

At nine, she started playing at her local Dunkeld Curling Club, Pitlochry, and impressed with a power of concentration and focus beyond her years. Her brothers are keen curlers too, and Thomas and Glen both represented Great Britain at PyeongChang 2018, the three siblings together in Korea, where the GB men's team finished fifth.

But there was always something extra special about Eve, and she became the first young player to win a hat-trick of world junior titles in 2009 before adding another in 2011.

In 2009, she also became the first to skip in the world junior and senior championships in the same year, a few months before she became an Olympian for the first time.

She told Olympics.com what her experience was like in Vancouver:

"An Olympic opening ceremony is completely unlike the opening ceremonies for the World Championships or European Championships so being there and feeling the atmosphere really makes you realise that this is it, you’re at the big one - the Olympic Games."

2. The force is with Eve... and Ewan McGregor

The GB skip went to school at Morrison's Academy in Crieff, which just happens to be where star of Trainspotting, Rogue Trader, Star Wars, Emma, Moulin Rouge, and many others - Ewan McGregor - studied.

Asked by the Independent all the way back in 2010 what other big names had come out of Morrison's Academy Eve Muirhead said:

"There have been some famous people. Let me think... What's-his-name McGregor."

The curler and filmstar even support the same football/soccer team, Perth's St. Johnstone, and when they won the 2014 Scottish Cup, both congratulated the team on social media.

The Saints won the cup again in 2021 as part of a historic cup double, giving them plenty to celebrate.

3. Curling and Westlife

Curling was always number one for a young Eve, but there was a time when she kept it hidden from her friends.

"I loved curling before I even stepped on to the ice," Muirhead told The Scotsman, "and aged eight and nine would happily sit at the side of the rink all day... taking everything in."

“Dad had these old videos of classic games and when I started playing I watched them non-stop. That’s how I learned, freeze-framing to check what these top guys did with their hips and so on.

"That was my secret life for a bit as I never told my school friends I liked curling. Maybe there was a poster of Westlife on my bedroom wall – I used to fancy Shane – but while the rest of the girls were catching the train to Perth to go shopping or to Pizza Hut I was playing in my first competitions."

4. Eve Muirhead: Why she chose curling over golf

A keen golfer too, the Scotland and GB curling skip could have taken a completely different path.

As a member of the Perth and Kinross regional team, Muirhead proved she had talent on the green as well as the freeze, and is a winner of the Highland Open, once making the final 16 in the British girls' championship too.

The multi-faceted Scot even turned down a number of golfing scholarships in the U.S., later telling ESPN why she chose curling over golfing:

"I knew I had the potential in curling to be at the top of the game. I knew a handful of golfers who made it to the top, to professional level, and that would have meant I'd have to move away and not curl at all," she said.

"I can be the best in the world, I know that if I put in the work I'm hopefully going to get the rewards at the end of it. That's why you strive to keep going.

"The Olympic medal proved a point that we're the hardest working team, the hardest working team, I'd like to think, in Scotland."

At PyeongChang 2018 she told Olympics.com about how golf has helped her curling, in the video below.

4. Eve Muirhead: Curler, golfer, bagpiper

And as if being brilliant at curling and golf wasn't enough, Muirhead is also a world-class bagpiper, having played the instrument at four World Championships.

She began piping at ten years old with the local Pitlochry pipe band, after receiving a set of pipes as a birthday gift from her mother.

But these days with her commitment to curling, she mostly come out at the weddings of her friends.

6. Stone of Destiny: Eve Muirhead's inspiration

Anyone who knows anything about British curling instantly knows what you're talking about when you mention the words: 'Stone of Destiny.'

Salt Lake City 2002, over six million people were fixed on the TV beyond midnight to watch Team GB skipper Rhona Martin claim a dramatic curling Olympic gold on the final stone.

It was Great Britain's first Olympic gold medal in curling since the inaugural Winter Games in Chamonix in 1924.

"I was 12 then," Muirhead recalls of the 2002 moment. "I had school the next day but I was allowed to stay up and watch. It was a great inspiration for the sport and for me. Rhona winning the gold showed what can be done and it's something I've dreamt of ever since."

7. Eve Muirhead's injury: Back and better after hip surgery

After PyeongChang 2018, Muirhead had hip surgery, which she has said was a struggle both “mentally and physically”.

In February 2021, she talked about how the Covid pandemic stay-at-home orders helped her recover, speaking to worldcurling.org.

“Right now, we’re in everyday practice and for me I benefited a lot at the start of lockdown from my hip health,” Muirhead said.

“The break has definitely helped me to really focus on my training and work hard with my strength coach.

“I’ve managed to make a lot of gains around my mechanical strength and my hips are in the best position they’ve ever been in."

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