European Curling Championships: Scotland prepare for Russia semi-final

Eve Muirhead and Vicki Adams
Eve Muirhead and Vicki Adams will look to continue Scotland's winning run in Glasgow on Friday

Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Lauren Gray and Vicki Adams - four Scots who have been the talk of Braehead Arena this week. In fact they have probably been the talk of the curling world.

The quartet have been in imperious form at the European Curling Championships in Glasgow, winning nine from nine at the round-robin stage - and reaching the women's semi-finals as top seeds.

Russia await them for a place in the final - a team they beat 8-4 with an end to spare in their last round-robin match - so presumably they will hold little fear for Team Muirhead.

So why are the host nation's women's team in such a rich vein of form?

"We don't like giving away secrets," skip Muirhead joked. "It's a lot of hard work. Glenn Howard our coach is full of experience and he's brought masses to this team."

The Canadian, a four-time world curling champion, joined Team Muirhead at the start of the season. This is the first tournament he's been with the team for the full duration.

"To get his knowledge after each game and during games as well at the fifth end is second to none," Muirhead told BBC Scotland. "It's really helped us a lot and it makes you not want to take the foot off the gas pedal at all, and that's important."

Anna Sloan and Lauren Gray
Sloan and Gray in action during Wednesday's play at Braehead Arena

Unlike the round-robin stages, the semi-finals are one-off winner-takes-all matches.

The top seeds play the team that finishes fourth in the standings, while it's second against third, Sweden v Czech Republic, in the other tie. The winners go through to Saturday's final, while the losers play for the bronze medal.

Despite their impressive form at these championships, Muirhead admits the change in format is a worry, with previous tournaments involving a play-off stage that provided more than one route to the final.

"It's a really tough thing, because you fight really hard and then it comes down to the play-off games [semi-finals] and you slip up in one of those games, that's you (out)," she explained.

"It's exactly the same at the World Championships and the Olympics Games. It happened to us at the Olympics. We were in the semi-final against Canada and unfortunately we didn't pull it off, and you're in the bronze games, so this is the important part of the week."

While Muirhead marches on at Braehead, she's hoping that will also encourage the crowd to swell. Attendances have been fairly poor during the week, with organisers drafting in groups of school children to help boost the numbers.

"I really hope the crowd does grow," she added. "It's important that we try and get as many more people in as we can.

"It's a big stadium to fill and it's great to have this in an arena so if we can try and get as many people along for these play-offs stages as we can, it'll make it better."

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