Scotland at the double as Eve Muirhead and Bruce Mouat curling teams' strike gold at European Championships
Scotland hit a golden double in both the men’s and women’s European curling championships in Norway, each defeating Sweden in the final.
The opportunity for the golden double had been set up earlier in the day when Eve Muirhead’s team had won the Le Guyere AOP women’s title in Lillehammer, and Bruce Mouat, Grant Hardie, Bobby Lammie and Hammy McMillan seized their opportunity to make history.
A re-match of this year’s World Championship final was also a repeat of the 2018 European final when Mouat’s men had taken the title on their only previous appearance at the event in 2018.
While the Scots were the form team heading into the final after topping the standings in the round-robin event by beating all nine rival teams, before over-powering Norway in a one-sided semi-final, they knew they had to be at their best against the Swedish skip who boasts record hauls of five World and seven European titles and who had been denied the European title just once since 2013.
The Swedes duly had the better of the early exchanges, producing pretty much a text book start for a team playing without the hammer as they forced Scotland at the first after their skip Niklas Edin produced a brilliant double take out with his final shot, then produced a perfectly judged raise at the second to score two.
They then looked to have driven home their advantage when they forced at the third, but the first significant slip of the match saw a rare miss from Oscar Eriksson with an attempted take out, compounded by the even rarer sight of Edin making mistakes with consecutive shots, an attempted draw then an attempted take out, to gift the Scots a two.
They then compounded that at the next end, with two more errors from Eriksson giving the Scots the upperhand, Edin responding with a fine takeout with his first stone, but missing with an attempted raise on his last stone after Mouat had piled on the pressure by drawing onto the button and a second successive steal of two.
A half-time lead of 6-2 was more than the Scots could have hoped for against the team that has dominated major championships at European and World level for the past eight years.
The Swedish skip raised his game at the start of the second half, a perfectly judged takeout, then well weighted draw halving the deficit at the next.
However, a precision raise from Mouat at the seventh end drew another mistake from Edin as his attempt at a hit and roll failed, allowing the Scottish skip to draw for a second and re-establish a four shot advantage at 8-4.
A well controlled eighth end frustrated the Swedes, who were forced to blank it and when they could take no more than a single from the ninth they accepted that the game was up and shook hands.
Afterwards Mouat was particularly pleased with both the way his team had coped with early adversity and how they subsequently managed to remain composed once they had the upper hand.
“That was a great game against Sweden,” he said.
“We knew we were going to have to play well and we started a bit slow, but then we got back into our groove that we had found all week and it was a really good middle section. We managed to control the game there and got our nose in front and managed to keep it there, which is sometimes the hardest thing.
“We’re over the moon to be two-time European champions. We’ll have a good celebration tonight I’m sure.
“The boys and I worked so hard for this and we don’t want to stop here, just at the Europeans, we want to keep focusing on trying to do our best when we get out to Beijing in February.”
Mouat has made a habit of creating history in the sport as the skip of the first Scottish men’s team to win a Grand Slam event in Canada, the first non-Canadian skip to claim three successive Grand Slam wins and as part of the first Scottish pairing with Jen Dodds to win the World Mixed Doubles title, earning him the right to become the first Scot to play in two disciplines at an Olympics which he has been selected to do in Beijing.
Being part of another landmark success, as Scotland’s men and women both won golds at the Euros for the first time, with his mixed doubles partner Dodds in the successful women’s team, consequently made this success all the more special.
“We’re so chuffed for the girls to win gold too and turn around their disappointment (at last season’s World Championships) in Calgary and come back to the Europeans and play amazingly,” he said
“Being part of this historic double feels amazing because that feels longer lasting than clinching the trophy and I’m over the moon to achieve this double double.”
The tournament also brought to an end an extraordinary year on the road that has seen them reach the final of all eight events they have played in, winning three lucrative Grand Slam titles in Canada along the way, setting them up perfectly for the biggest trip of all early next year.
“We’ve had an amazing year overseas and we’re obviously in a good spot heading into the Winter Olympic Games that are coming up in February,” said Mouat.
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