I think it’s fair to say that a lot of people in Perthshire were pretty hooked on the curling at the 2018 Winter Olympics. In fact I’ve heard many people who had never watched the sport before talk about how they were glued to their televisions whenever Team Smith or Team Muirhead took to the ice in Pyeongchang.
Well, if that has made you keen to watch more top-class curling then you’re in luck because both Smith and Muirhead will be returning to Perth this weekend with their respective teams to compete for a place at the World Championships later this month. Both skips will be leading their teammates into a playoff against the men’s and women’s Scottish champions, with the winners going to the World Championships to represent Team Scotland.
Scottish Curling is billing the playoff matches – which will be in a best of three format and played over Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th March – as “a rare event that will provide a one-off opportunity to showcase the sport.”
Team Smith will take on Team Mouat in the men’s playoff, while Eve and the rest of Team Muirhead go up against Team Fleming in the women’s game. The prize will be another trip to foreign shores to represent their country, adding to the miles that the Perthshire curlers have already racked up in the past month.
Fresh off the back of what is a trip covering over 5000 miles from South Korea back to the Fair City, both teams will be hoping to put any fatigue to the back of their minds as they get right back on the ice following their battling performances at the Winter Olympics. Kyle and the boys narrowly missed out on a semi-final place, losing in a playoff decider to eventual bronze-medallists Switzerland. Eve Muirhead was agonisingly close to another Olympic medal when the girls lost out in the bronze medal game to Japan.
The reward for both teams, if they can get past the men’s and women’s Scottish champions, will be a trip to North America for the 2018 World Championships. The women’s event comes first and will be held in North Bay, Ontario in Canada between the 17th and 25th of this month.
The men will head for the bright lights of Las Vegas, Nevada if they can win their playoff against Team Mouat – with the event taking place between March 31st and April 8th.
Eve has already represented Scotland at World Championship level eight times, winning gold in the 2013 championships in Riga and bronze in last year’s event in Beijing.
For Kyle and the rest of Team Smith, it would be a World Championships debut but Kyle did skip his current team-mates Cammy Smith, Thomas Muirhead and Kyle Waddell to gold in the World Junior Championships in Sochi back in 2013. Current alternate Glen Muirhead wasn’t a member of that team but there will be high hopes that all five can make it to the senior event for the first time and make the plane to Vegas.
Although the men may not have World Championship experience, Guildtown boys Kyle and Cammy Smith’s dad, David, won gold for Scotland at the 1991 championships in Winnipeg and they’ll be hoping to follow in his footsteps if they can emerge victorious this weekend.
With the weather likely to impact outdoor sports such as football, golf and rugby this weekend, why not get down to Dewars Centre and watch the Olympians do battle with the Scottish champions to see who will be heading to North Bay and Las Vegas later this month – if Pyeongchang is anything to go by it’s going to be an exciting weekend on the ice in Perth!
The action gets underway at Dewars Centre on Saturday at 2PM with the first of the men's games. You can purchase tickets for the weekend from Eventbrite here.
Schedule for the weekend:
Men's Draw 1 - 14:00
Women's Draw 1 - 18:00
Men's Draw 2 - 10:00
Women's Draw 2 - 14:00
Men + Women's Draw 3 - 18:30 (if required)
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