Having formed a new team (Glen Muirhead, Ross Paterson, Hammy McMillan) in the wake of the 2014 Olympics, Tom Brewster has steered them to represent Scotland at the World Men’s Curling Championship this week.
Joined by alternate Scott Andrews and coach Mike Harris, they kick off their campaign in Basel, Switzerland, against Korea tomorrow.
I spoke to Brewster to preview Worlds before his rink set off for the competition.
The team reached the final of the Aberdeen International last weekend, finishing as runners-up to Team Murdoch.
For Brewster, it was excellent preparation for Worlds.
“It was great to get back on the ice again, as we haven’t really competed in an event since the Scottish Championships,” he said.
“It got the brain thinking again competitively, tactically. Technically you can do all the work you want, but until you’re playing games you don’t quite switch on properly.
“So I think it’s helped greatly, and hopefully it’ll hold us in great stead for Saturday.”
Brewster juggles his skipping role with a job as manager at Curl Aberdeen, and so I asked how successful he felt the inaugural event had been from that perspective.
He said: “We set the event up in April May last year, British Curling stepped in to support it, to increase the quality events in Scotland and bring better quality teams across, to give as many Scottish teams as possible the chance to play in a strong field.
“I think we succeeded – from the feedback from the teams everybody loved it and hopefully they’ll support it again next year and we’ll have a bigger field, a stronger field, which is great for curling in Aberdeen and Scotland.”
On to Worlds then, and making sure the team is fit and firing for the start of the round robin, which runs from tomorrow through to Thursday (playoffs Friday to Sunday).
“Rest and recuperation is the big thing really,” Brewster explained.
“We’ve got some training ice on Thursday for us to fine-tune any bits and pieces that we’re not too happy with from the weekend.
“Then on Friday we have practice in the arena that we’re playing in.
“The time will disappear very quickly, so it’s about making sure we eat properly, and get as much rest and recovery as we can.”
The Worlds routine is something Brewster is used to, having been a medallist at this level in 2002, 2011, 2012 and 2013.
I asked him to compare the experience and quality of the field this year to others that he’s faced in the past.
“It’s very strong,” he said. “It’s always strong at this level and this year is no different.
“The Canadians are strong, you’ve got Niklas Edin’s Sweden playing at the top level, Thomas Ulsrud [Norway] won it a couple of years ago… it’s a top field.
“So you always have to play at your best and hopefully get a little bit of luck along the way.”
The venue for this year’s event – St Jakobshalle – is one Brewster is familiar with, as it hosted World Men’s in 2012 too.
“It’s a nice arena – it’s used mainly for tennis,” Brewster said. “The ice is made up for this event, so it’s something of a one-off.
“There was a good set-up the last time. They had a few issues with the ice last time in terms of humidity, but they’ll have rectified that for this event with a dehumidifier, so I’d expect the ice conditions to be even better than last time.”
He’s also very familiar with the team’s alternate, Scott Andrews having been on Brewster’s rink up to Sochi.
I asked what assets Andrews brings to the team for Basel.
“Scott brings experience from previous championships,” Brewster said.
“He knows me very well, I know him. He knows how I operate, how I run the team, what I will expect from the team members.
“That saves a lot of hassle in itself, as he can just go straight in, we all know each other well, so he’ll fit in well.”
Finally, what are the key factors in staying in the running through to the end of the week and the playoffs in this competition?
Brewster said: “It’s the old cliche but it holds true – one shot at a time, one end at a time, one game at a time.
“You can’t look too far ahead because every shot matters.
“You want to focus on all the little things, and hopefully the big things will take care of themselves.”