Eve Muirhead gets the New York Times treatment ahead of the Olympics. It's a good story although a bit basic in some of the descriptions of the game, even for a non-traditional curling audience. Still, it talks about the pressure facing the rock-tosser who will represent GB in Sochi:
She will arrive as a reigning world champion, but also as the focus of a newfound Olympic interest in Britain, and particularly in Scotland, which claims to have originated curling on its frozen lochs and rivers in the middle of the 16th century.
“Everything’s now focused on the Olympics,” Muirhead said recently after her daily routine of strength training and ice practice in the Stirling gym. Her profile, and the stakes, have never been higher.There's even a tangent on the upcoming Scottish referendum about independence and attempts to draw Muirhead and other Scottish athletes into the politics.
Alex Salmond, the nationalist leader and Scotland’s first minister, has worked hard, without notable success, to recruit Scotland’s top sports figures to his cause. Last summer, he ruffled feathers at Wimbledon by unfurling Scotland’s blue-and-white flag, the Saltire, at his seat in the Royal Box at the moment of Andy Murray’s victory in the men’s singles final, the first championship by a British man there in 77 years.
Academic studies in Scotland over the past decade have aided the nationalist cause, at least indirectly, by finding a link between Scotland’s perceived underperformance in sports and a culture of defeatism among Scottish athletes, a pattern some have attributed to the centuries that Scotland has spent as a dependent part of Britain.
But Murray and other top Scottish athletes, including Chris Hoy, a cyclist with six Olympic gold medals, have resisted the nationalists’ call. So, too, have the curlers. Although she speaks of Scotland as her country — “It’s nice to know that we have the whole country, Scotland, behind us” — Muirhead shrugs off any suggestion of nationalist leanings.