Team Muirhead snap up Gray with one eye on Winter Olympics
SCOTLAND’S leading curling team has eliminated its main domestic opposition by recruiting the skip of the team they beat in the national championship final.
Team Muirhead has dominated the Scottish women’s game in the last few seasons but recently announced a major overhaul in a bid to maximise their competitiveness ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
That involved parting company with Dave Hay, their coach of the past four years who helped them to a bronze medal at Sochi in 2014, and with Sarah Reid, the lead who was introduced after Claire Hamilton left following that Olympic campaign.
In a fascinating move, they have now replaced Reid with Lauren Gray, who simultaneously finds herself in familiar and unfamiliar territory since she was the fifth member of the team, effectively the travelling reserve in Sochi, but has little experience as a lead.
Since skip and lead are arguably the two more specialised roles in any curling team, they are very different in terms of the types of head they are playing to, while the lead has a much greater workload in terms of sweeping.
However, Gray has expressed excitement at the challenge that has presented itself as she is reunited with skip Eve Muirhead as well as Anna Sloan and Vicky Adams little more than 18 months ahead of the Winter Olympics, for which they are odds-on favourites to represent Great Britain.
“It is a fantastic opportunity to join such a highly experienced and successful team and I feel very fortunate to be in this position,” she said.
She acknowledged that hard work lies ahead if she is to make the adjustments.
“The new gym work is about to start with Dave Leith [British Curling’s strength and conditioning coach] to provide me with the most effective programme and sweeping drills to ensure my successful transition into becoming the lead of Team Muirhead,” Gray continued.
“As we build towards the pinnacle event in our sport, I know the girls will be a great support network for me to help me reach my full potential in this new role.”
Muirhead expects the transition to be a team effort.
“It will be a big change for Lauren but she will adapt quickly from skip to lead as she is a very good player and her ability to analyse and read the game will be an added strength to our rink as Anna and Vicky are also very analytical,” she said.