Curling: Holders up first for Eve Muirhead at European Championships

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Scotland’s European champion Eve Muirhead of Blair Athol faces the toughest possible start to the defence of her title when the 2012 Le Gruyere European Curling Championships in Karlstad, Sweden get under way today.

Muirhead and her team – third Anna Sloan, Vikki Adams, Claire Hamilton and alternate Sarah Reid – face the reigning world champions led by Switzerland’s Mirjam Ott in their opening round-robin game today, before going on to face Italy and then Finland tomorrow. Ahead of Muirhead’s match-up with Switzerland, the Scottish men open their campaign against the Czech Republic, a team that has beaten Scotland more than once, including at last year’s 
European Championships in Moscow. Aberdeen’s Tom Brewster leads the quartet that has won silver medals for Scotland at the last two world championships – third Greg Drummond, second Scott Andrews, and lead Michael Goodfellow. For this season they have become a five-man team, adding two-times world champion and three-times European champion skip David Murdoch, who will be rotated into the line-up as the championship unfolds.

The men have two sessions of round-robin play today and they come back onto the ice this evening to face a new German line-up. World championships qualification slots are up for grabs, with only eight men’s and seven women’s spaces available for European teams. In turn, 
Olympic qualification points can only be gained at world championships, so the stakes are high indeed.