Team Muir­head snap up Gray with one eye on Win­ter Olympics

The Herald - Herald Sport - - FINAL SAY - KEVIN FERRIE

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.

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