Muirhead out to lead GB curlers to the top at PyeongChang 2018
Two-time Olympian Eve Muirhead became the youngest ever skip to win an Olympic medal when she led her Great Britain rink to bronze at Sochi 2014. Crowned European champion for a second time in 2017, the Scot hails from a family of curlers and will be joined in PyeongChang by brothers Thomas and Glen.
Muirhead claimed her second continental title by skipping Scotland to a 6-3 defeat of Sweden in St Gallen (SUI) in November 2017. It was her eighth successive European medal.
“European champion sounds pretty nice,” commented Muirhead, who was partnered to victory by her Sochi 2014 team-mates Anna Sloan and Vicki Adams, and new lead Lauren Gray. “It’s been a tough week and we’ve played really well. We’ve been working hard all season, and to come out on top and be European champions is really, really special.”
“That was my eighth consecutive European medal, but only one before that was gold,” she continued. “That’s now two and it feels extra special with everyone talking about the Olympics now. It was a very hard week, but we knew how important it was as the last major before the Olympic Games. I was delighted to come away with another gold medal.”
A first taste of the Olympics
Muirhead hails from a dynasty of curlers: father Gordon was crowned curling world champion in 1999 and competed at Albertville 1992. Curling is not the only area where the talented athlete excels; she is also a keen golfer and bagpipe player.
“I would class myself as pretty stubborn when it comes to learning something and not giving up until I’m good at it,” she explained.
She proved her tenacity as a precocious youngster, first competing on the junior scene aged only 16 and winning four world junior titles between 2007 and 2011.
Muirhead was just 19 when she led the GB rink at Vancouver 2010. After getting off to a strong start, her team then recorded five defeats in a row and failed to make it through to the play-offs.
“I don’t think I was too young. I have got a lot of good memories from 2010,” recalled the Scottish skip of her first Olympic experience. “Obviously the results were disappointing, we went in as medal hopefuls and didn’t get one, but when you look back we think there are a lot of things we could have done better. There are little regrets. I personally don’t think I did enough.”
An Athlete Role Model at the inaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck in 2012, Muirhead went to London later that year to experience the Olympics from another perspective, and was in the stadium when Jessica Ennis memorably won gold in the heptathlon. Inspired by Ennis’s performance, the young Scot redoubled her efforts to become a world-class athlete.
In an already illustrious career, Muirhead has led her team onto the podium at every single European Championships since 2010, a run that includes gold in 2011 and her 2017 triumph. In 2013, aged just 22, she became the youngest-ever world championship-winning skip, throwing a superb final stone to defeat Sweden 6-5 in the final.
Her impressive run of international success led to her selection for Team GB for Sochi 2014, along with Sloan, Adams and Claire Hamilton.
Muirhead and her rink squeaked through the preliminary rounds in Russia in fourth place, recording five victories and four defeats. They were then defeated 6-4 in the semi-finals by eventual champions Canada, leaving them in the play-off for bronze against Switzerland.
A tense match was tied at 5-5 heading into the final end, with the Scot handling the pressure by scoring with the last stone to lead her team to a 6-5 victory.
“To end on a high makes it even better,” she said of her Olympic medal.
“I couldn’t think of what it would have been like to walk away without a medal around my neck.” Eve Muirhead Great Britain - Eve Muirhead Great Britain
In winning bronze at only 23, Muirhead had the honour of being the youngest ever skip to stand on an Olympic podium – yet another achievement in an increasingly successful career.
A family affair
Since Sochi, Muirhead has scooped a further three European Championship medals, while also picking up a bronze at the 2017 World Championships. Not surprisingly, she was once again amongst the first athletes to earn selection for Team GB for PyeongChang 2018.
Her third Olympic appearance will have extra significance for Muirhead, as she will be joined by brothers Thomas and Glen, part of the British men’s rink skipped by Kyle Smith, a silver medallist at the 2017 European Championships. Their aim will be to go one better than Team GB’s silver in the men’s curling at Sochi 2014.
“We have made some changes to our line-up and added to our coaching and support team, which we feel have been timely in order for us to bring it all together,” said Muirhead of her chances for PyeongChang. “We are lucky to have such assets at our disposal, helping us to be the best prepared we can be, and that is when good things can happen. It has always been our goal to achieve our best result possible at the Games.”
One of those assets is their new coach, legendary four-time world champion skip Glenn Howard. In addition, Muirhead will doubtless be counting on her Olympic experience. After finishing seventh in Vancouver and third in Sochi, she will be aiming even higher in 2018.