Bruce Mouat is in the form of his life as he heads to Canada for a week which could have a big impact on his immediate future.
Mixed team curling makes its debut at next year’s Games in PyeongChang and 39 teams are lining up at the World Championships in Alberta with Olympic qualification places high on the agenda.
The inaugural competition will be an eight-team event, with hosts Korea already secure of their slot.
That leaves lots of top curling nations fighting it out to join them - with some big names guaranteed to be absent.
Mouat, 22, and partner Gina Aitken, 23, finished fourth at the event last year and arrive in Alberta in a rich vein of form. They won the Scottish title for the fourth time in five years and have recorded a series of podium finishes across Europe this season.
Mouat also skipped the Scottish rink to gold at last year’s junior World Championships and helped Great Britain top the podium at this year’s World University Games. He also finished second to Olympic silver medallist David Murdoch at the recent Scottish senior championships.
Scotland will face round-robin games against Bulgaria, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Serbia, and Wales before focus will switch to the 16-team knock-out stages.
“We have to think about the Olympics – qualifying Team GB for this discipline is obviously on our minds,” admitted Mouat.
“We want to do better this year than last and a medal would put us in s stronger position to hopefully go on and represent Team GB, so we need to give ourselves the best start that we can.
“It takes time to adjust from playing in a team to the mixed doubles format and we have got a head start. We have a great opportunity in front of us and we need to take hold of that and see what we can do with it.
“It would be incredible to go to an Olympics – it is our biggest goal as it is the pinnacle of our sport. We need to do well, to secure the investment in us so we can continue full time and continue the dream.
“This will be our fourth world mixed doubles but the level of competition has got higher. More countries are competing and they are sending better teams and the competitors are working harder in this discipline because there is now a lot at stake with the opportunity to go to an Olympic Games.”
Mouat admitted he found his first experience of playing in Canada, where curling is a national sport, overwhelming but partner Aitken can’t wait to get started.
“In Canada curling is really big and they always put on great events, so we are really looking forward to these championships,” she said.
“We have certainly done a lot more work, we have trained more together and entered more competitions and we need to make sure that we continue doing what we are doing in order to peak at the right time.”
Photo credit: Perthshire Picture Agency - Graeme Hart