Muirhead keen to embrace last outing of 2017
Eve Muirhead is determined to enjoy the last event of 2017 as the two Scottish rinks ramp up preparations for PyeongChang at the Karuizawa International.
Crowned European champions last month, Team Muirhead have already had a year to remember on the ice, with the countdown to next year’s Olympic Winter Games getting closer and closer.
A trip to Japan marks their first competition since that victory as well as the denouement to their year, as it was 12 months ago.
For some that would provide the pressures but when it comes to Muirhead, she is hoping the rink can play with a smile on their face as they look forward to what is to come.
"It’s been a pretty intense period leading up to and including the Europeans, so it is really nice to be in Japan to round off 2017," she said.
"We had a great welcome at this event last year, we loved the people, their culture and really loved the food. We also know how useful this will be for our Olympic preparations, making sure we get all our processes right for the change in time zones.
"It has been a great year and we have an amazing Olympic year to look forward to and I can’t think of a better place to be at this stage of our preparations.
"Competing in our last event of the year we really want to enjoy this great venue whilst also doing some extra homework just before we have a few days off for Christmas.
"As soon as that has passed we will be back on ice training before we welcome in the new year and everything that will bring."
Muirhead’s rink are not the only Scottish contingent heading to Asia, with Kyle Smith’s rink also looking to end the year in style – and back up the achievements of teams past.
Looking to follow in the footsteps of Sochi silver medallists Tom Brewster and David Murdoch, victory would complete a Scottish hat-trick in what is one of the last gauntlets to lay down before PyeongChang.
They too enjoyed European glory – taking the silver behind champions Sweden – with Smith relishing his forthcoming Olympic debut in South Korea.
"We are really looking forward to this tournament as it is our first time in Asia except for Glen [Muirhead – part of Team Brewster who won the title last year]," he said.
"There will be a lot of new experiences for us, a different culture, food and time zone and it is a great time to experience all of this before February.
"It is very important for us to get a good feel for this before we head back to this part of the world so we are comfortable when we enter the holding camp. We will have seen it all before and we are grateful to have been given this opportunity.
"There was great feedback from other British Curling teams who have been here previously and obviously like them we want to have success here too.
"Our approach this week will be slightly different given we want to absorb as much as possible because of what it is ahead of us."