Perthshire has always been pretty well established in the world of curling. The fantastic Dewars Ice Rink plays host to international events on a regular basis, and who can forget the success of Blair Atholl’s Eve Muirhead in Sochi and the World Championships. For a wee city, we don’t half do alright on the ice!
It’s not just Eve who’s making a big name for Perth at the rink though. Recently, Team Smith rounded off an impressive season on the World Curling Tour by winning the European Masters – a magnificent achievement by the team skipped by Guildtown man, Kyle Smith.
Kyle is joined on the ice by brother Cameron, Kyle Waddell and Thomas Muirhead – Eve’s younger brother. It was a successful year on the tour for the team, who have risen from 22nd in the world rankings to the new dizzying heights of 8th. Kyle grew up with the sport and remembers fondly taking in his first Scottish Championship Final at the Braehead Arena and even back then he knew curling was something he was destined to do.
“It’s always been a big part of our family for as long as I can remember. My Dad and his brother both played at a very high standard, and they won the World Championships together back in 1991 so I think my brother and I were always going to curl!”
Following in his father and uncle’s footsteps seemed inevitable and success came throughout Kyle’s time in the junior curling ranks. He skipped Scotland to the junior World Championship title in Sochi in 2013 in a side that included his brother and his relationship with his sibling has been pivotal in the pair’s fantastic careers to date.
“It’s brilliant playing alongside my brother. We work at home together, practice and train together a lot and of course we have to travel with each other to all of the events! Of course we have fall outs like all brothers do, but most of the time we get on well.
“We’re great pals and we drive each other on to be the best we can be. We’re always there for each other when we need to be too – it’s great that I can always rely on my brother.”
They’ve certainly come a long way from their home village of Guildtown, where they still help out on the family farm. Kyle’s dad, David, was a successful Scottish curler and just like his old man he has had the great honour of being skip for his country.
“Since I can remember it’s always been my dream to represent Scotland at the World Championships. So getting the chance to do that again is definitely what drives me to be successful.
“To represent your country at the highest level in any sport is great, and I consider myself to be very lucky that I’ve been able to do it in curling.”
Now on the World Curling Tour, Team Smith travels the world playing the sport they love. With events taking place right across Europe and North America, Kyle is often away from home for long periods of time.
It’s something that he does enjoy, but it’s not always easy to be on the road even when it is doing something that he loves.
“Travelling can be brilliant and you get to see so many nice places and meet a lot of great people. It is hard being away from home for weeks on end though, and you miss your family and it also means I miss a lot of the work on the farm which puts more stress of my mum and dad.
“Of course, if you do well when you’re away at a competition it makes it all worthwhile! It’s something I feel very fortunate to be able to do and I would never be able to do it without the support of my family.”
It’s now the off season and that means that Kyle and his brother can head back to the family farm to lend a hand to their parents. The curling season doesn’t start competitively again until September, which gives Team Smith time to reflect on a very successful year.
There is still a lot for Kyle and his teammates to keep an eye out for though –the Winter Olympics are only half a year away and will be held in Pyeongchang in South Korea. The boys are in with a shout of being chosen as Team GB’s men’s curling representatives, and they now anxiously play the waiting game.
We are awaiting the British Olympic Association’s announcement about which team will get to represent Team GB “We are awaiting the British Olympic Association’s announcement about which team will get to represent Team GB and it’s been our goal over the past few seasons to put ourselves in the best possible position to be selected. Now we just have to wait and see who is chosen!
“For me now it’s back home to help out on the farm and there should be plenty to keep us busy through the summer! I’m doing some strength and conditioning work too during the close season and I’ll make sure I’m ready to go for September when the competitive action starts again!”
With such great curling pedigree, Perth always seems to keep churning out generations of talent on the rink. Kyle is hopeful there will be another generation coming through like him, and has some advice for any local youngsters thinking about the sport.
“I would say just give curling a try! Dewars Ice Rink is always open in the season and there are lots of sessions available with excellent coaches. It’s like every sport though and if you want to make it you have to practice and work hard to achieve your goals!”
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