Muirheads prepare for family affair as PyeongChang curling rinks confirmed

With two rinks, three siblings and a third Winter Olympic Games rapidly approaching – PyeongChang 2018 could hardly be any more special for Eve Muirhead and her family.

The skip has been confirmed to once again lead Team GB on the grandest stage of all next February, joined by Sochi 2014 teammates Anna Sloan and Vicki Adams, while Lauren Gray joins the team having been the alternate at the last Games.

But the name “Team Muirhead” will take a rather different meaning in Russia.

Eve will head to the Games with her two brothers, Thomas and Glen, part of Kyle Smith’s rink for their maiden Olympics, while Kyle Waddell and Cammie Smith also prepare to break new ground.

But for Eve, an Olympic bronze medallist in Sochi in 2014 after also competing in Vancouver four years earlier, this Games will hold a particular place in her heart and the entirety of the Muirhead clan.

“Having the brothers there will make this Olympics definitely more special for me,” she said.

“To know that I can compete alongside them, seeing them with Muirhead and Great Britain on their back is something really special, I don’t really know how to describe it.

“I know mum and dad are really proud, hopefully we’ll have a lot of GB flags supporting us.

“It’s something really exciting, we’re all as excited as the one before and it never gets old, every sportsperson dreams of getting the call-up at Team GB, so to be able to do that again is great.

“I honestly can’t wait for the next seven months to come so we can get out on the ice in Korea.

“Being as competitive as I am, the bronze medal was special and something we worked hard for, but knowing that you’re able to achieve that with that work shows that we can produce more as a team.”

While Muirhead has the experience behind her, Team Smith are preparing to throw themselves into the unknown.

But while they have yet to visit PyeongChang, they boast plenty of pedigree, collecting World Junior Championship bronze in 2012, gold in 2013 and silver the following year.

Since then the success has kept on coming, becoming the first British men’s team ever to reach a Grand Slam final, in Canada, while also winning the OCT Oakville Classic in the season just gone.

That has all coupled with careers in farming for Smith and his rink – a familiarity in curling – with the 24-year-old skip still waiting for the moment he realises just what the next seven months will mean to him.

“Receiving that phone call about our Olympic selection is probably one of the best experiences I have ever had and it is still a bit surreal and hasn’t really sunk in yet,” he said.

“It’s been a goal of this team since the last Olympic Games, we’ve worked hard towards it and we’ve put ourselves in the position to be one of the contenders.

“Thanks to a good year on the World Curling Tour we’ve been selected so it’s definitely something we’ve been trying to achieve and to get that feels great.

“We didn’t realise how big the Grand Slam was at the time, reflecting on it was fantastic, being the first Scottish men’s team and only the second European team to get to the final showed just how much progress we’d made.

“It’s going to be relatively new in PyeongChang, we haven’t been that side of the world as a team, but we’re planning on going over to Japan in December in the build-up, which will hopefully give us time to experience the time change and the different culture as well.

“Now we’re just really looking forward to it.”

Team GB’s curling rinks for PyeongChang 2018:

Team Smith:

Kyle Smith – born Perth, resides Perth, age 24 Thomas Muirhead –  born Perth, resides Crieff, age 22 Kyle Waddell – born Bellshill, resides Hamilton, age 23 Cammy Smith – born Perth, resides Perth, age 23 Glen Muirhead (alternate) – born Perth, resides Crieff, age 28 Coach: Viktor Kjell Team Muirhead: Eve Muirhead – born Perth, resides Stirling, age 27 Anna Sloan – born Dumfries, resides Stirling, age 26 Vicki Adams – born Edinburgh, resides Stirling/Stranraer, age 27 Lauren Gray – born Glasgow, resides Glasgow, age 25 Kelly Schafer (alternate) – born Dundee, resides Swift Current Canada, age 36 Coach: Glenn Howard

Sportsbeat 2017