Curling: Euro glory for Scotland

SKIP Eve Muirhead inspired her young Scotland team to stunning European Curling Championships gold in Moscow yesterday with an extraordinary 8-2 thumping of hot favourites and defending champions Sweden.

It was the first European title for a female Scottish rink since 1975 – 15 years before 21-year-old Muirhead was born – and made up for the Perthshire skip’s 8-6 defeat to the same opponents in last year’s final. Three-time world junior champion Muirhead also suffered a heartbreaking last-stone defeat in last year’s world final against Germany but was calm and focused yesterday as the Swedes were ruthlessly dismantled.

“It’s fantastic,” said Muirhead. “It’s one of the medals I’ve wanted.

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“Last year we took silver against Sweden and this year we took gold – you couldn’t ask for any more. Sweden had such a great week, but we just piled on the pressure from the start and we got a few mistakes out of the skip, and as soon as they made any mistakes, we just pounced.”

Sweden had sailed through the week undefeated, including a win over the Scots when Muirhead’s team were timed out. But yesterday was a different story as the Scottish quartet of Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams and Claire Hamilton grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck from the off and left the Swedes reeling with a first-half blitz.

A combination of smart work from the Scots, who got off to a dream start by taking two without last-stone advantage in the first end, and sloppy play from the increasingly rattled Swedes saw Muirhead race into a 7-0 halfway lead. Sweden had no response and, after some nip and tuck, finally conceded at 8-2 down after the eighth end.

“I would say we had control in every single end,” Muirhead added. “When it gets past that fifth end and you’re quite a few up, and you know you’ve not won it yet, you’ve just got to keep going and I think we did that well. We peaked at the right time.

“This is a new team for me and I think we’re going to do great. This was a first major title and I’m delighted. We’re still young – Anna [Sloan] is still a junior and I’m only 21, so if we keep training hard, who knows what we can achieve?”