Bruce Mouat doesn’t mind target on his back at world curling championships

Edinburgh’s Bruce Mouat and his team will be marked men when the World Curling Championships get underway in Lethbridge, Canada, today but the Murrayfield skip believes their status as one of the pre-tournament favourites can actually help them win another gold medal.

The Scots in Canada. From left: Bobby Lammie, Hammy McMillan, Grant Hardie and Bruce Mouat. Picture: Graeme Hart

Mouat, whose rink were crowned European champions in November said; “The other teams all know who we are now, but having a target on your back can also be an advantage.

“When you’ve won big events in the past, some people are a bit scared to play you, so you can use that and intimidate them before you even get on the ice.”

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Mouat and team-mates Hammy McMillan, Bobby Lammie and Grant Hardie made their World Championship debut in Las Vegas last year and returned home with a bronze medal after trouncing Korean Kim Chang-Min 11-4 in the third place play-off.

“We now know what playing in a World Championship is all about and we know how long a week it is,” added Mouat. “We gained a lot of experience in Las Vegas and hopefully that can help us do better than bronze this time. When you’re a kid growing up, you really want to play at a World Championship in Canada, so I hope it lives up to expectations.

“The Olympic gold, silver and bronze medallists (American John Shuster, Swede Niklas Edin and Switzerland’s Peter De Cruz) will all be there and Canada’s Kevin Koe has a really great team, too. They have a huge advantage playing at home in Alberta, but there will be huge expectations on them as well.”

Team Mouat’s form has been ultra-consistent in their second season together, lifting them to fourth place in the world rankings behind three Canadian rinks. The undoubted highlight was their 9-5 victory over world champion Edin in the European final in Tallinn in November. They also won the Perth Masters and successfully defended their Scottish title, although they narrowly failed to retain their National Grand Slam crown when Glasgow’s Ross Paterson beat them in an all-Scottish final in Newfoundland in December.

Their last event before the worlds saw the holders surprisingly lose in the quarter-finals of the Aberdeen International after winning all five group games. Mouat said: “It was just one unfortunate match where we didn’t perform as well as we had all week.”

The Scots have been getting used to the speed of the ice in Lethbridge after arriving in Canada last Sunday and they open their round-robin campaign against Russian Sergei Glukhov at 8pm UK time tonight. The Scots then faces De Cruz and Dutchman Jaap Van Dorp tomorrow.