A year ago, Eve Muirhead spoke of her frustration at having a few too many European silver medals in her collection and how she felt it was time to add another gold to the one she claimed in Moscow five years ago.
You can guess what happened in Denmark a week later. Yet another silver – her fourth in total – to add to the pile after Scotland lost to Russia in the final.
“The frustration continues,” said Muirhead as she looked ahead to this year’s European Championships on home ice at Braehead, which gets underway today and runs to 28 November.
“At major championships, firstly you want to medal but, if you do manage to make it to a final, you sure don’t want it to be silver.
“There are a fair few European silvers in my collection but hopefully this time around, with it being a home championship, with the crowd support, no travel involved and Anna [Sloan] back with us, there’s no excuse not to be aiming for the gold.”
Muirhead’s long-time deputy Sloan is back from a knee injury to take her familiar place as third in a rink which also contains Vicki Adams and Lauren Gray, with Kelly Schafer as alternate.
Playing in a first major senior championships on home ice since the 2009 Europeans at Aberdeen is motivation enough for Muirhead and her team but the event is another stepping stone on the road to qualification to represent Team GB at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
“Olympics are always in my thoughts,” said Muirhead. “From the moment we got those bronze medals in Sochi [in 2014] I was thinking about the next one. It’s the pinnacle of our sport and will always be the main goal.”
Muirhead, Sloan and Adams were in the rink which won World Junior gold in Perth in the same year as their European senior success and the third from Lockerbie is excited about playing in front of a home crowd again.
“We are used to playing under pressure so I see it as a positive,” said Sloan. “It will be so good having friends and family, who can’t often watch us perform live, cheering us on from the stands.”
Scotland’s women face Italy in their opening game today.
In the men’s event, Scotland’s team of skip Tom Brewster, third Glen Muirhead, second Ross Paterson and lead Hammy McMillan face two tough matches on day one of the round robin against Denmark, 2014 world champions Norway, skipped by Thomas Ulsrud, before tomorrow’s match against defending European champions Sweden, skipped by Niklas Edin.
Brewster’s rink battled through the European play-down play-offs at Perth for the right to represent Scotland, beating the team of Olympic silver medallist David Murdoch.
“We had set ourselves a couple of goals for the season. One was to qualify through the Euro play-offs and everything came together that weekend,” said Brewster.
While Muirhead’s team are Scotland’s undisputed best female rink, Brewster knows a lot of hard work lies ahead if they are going to make it to Korea.
“I think it’s too far down the line to think about Olympics,” said the 42-year-old Aberdonian. “You need to perform well at the Europeans to qualify for worlds, win your national championships. There’s plenty for us to worry about before even thinking about Olympics.”