Eve Muirhead has so much sangfroid in her attitude to challenges that one wonders whether she has entered into a private mind meld with The Killing's Sarah Lund.
It’s all there: the endless commitment, deft circumnavigation of treacherous obstacles, the occasional flirtation with a bad word – Muirhead says “pissed” at one point, which sounds as incongruous as Joey Barton singing “Ave Maria” – and incessant pursuit of professional perfectionism.
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Amid her mature approach to her sporting life, it is easy to forget that Muirhead is still only 22 and talks about her vocation as if picking up a curling stone was as normal a preoccupation for a teenager as dancing to Glenn Miller or preferring the Road to . . . movies to The Matrix.
Yet, as our conversation progresses, the Stirling-based Muirhead demonstrates that she is wholly, absolutely determined to follow in Rhona Martin’s ice-print by winning the gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Sochi next year.
“We picked up silver at the Euros [in December] and we have just won the Scottish championships, so we feel that we are moving in the right direction, but we have to keep pushing ourselves,” said Muirhead.
“Curling probably is more competitive than it has ever been and you can’t get by these days without being totally committed to it, on and off the ice.
That’s not a criticism of the people who went before us, but the sport is moving on and you have to work on a huge range of different things. It’s not just about curling, it’s about being in the gym, getting yourself psychologically prepared, putting your body through the wringer and being able to get into the later stages of tournaments when you are not at your best.
“We finished sixth at the worlds last time around, which was despite us making a slow start, so we know we have to be sharper in our early matches – and we certainly couldn’t have asked for a tougher start at the worlds next month [in Riga, Latvia] than coming up against Canada and Sweden in the first two games.
“But, to be honest, that is probably a good thing. We have to show what we can do from the first rink: and that is exactly what we are spending all these months preparing for.”
Lund wouldn’t approve of this dread habit of ending sentences with propositions: a killing of a grammatical nature. But Muirhead is pretty cold-blooded in her own right, particularly once she begins talking about the interpersonal dynamic within her group, encompassing Claire Hamilton, Vicki Adams and Anna Sloan.
“I never thought this at the outset of my career, but it’s true: you have to build up experience and that doesn’t come straight away,” said Muirhead, who is one of the growing number of sports stars affiliated to the Red Sky management group.
“Learning from your mistakes is hugely important, and the fact I am with girls who are the same age as me means that we are growing up together. Some days, things go better than others. Some days, you or somebody else has a bad game and you have to learn how to deal with it. Some days, it might be me who has messed up.
“The crucial thing is we are a team and we are all getting used to that idea. The girls have decided to devote themselves 100% to this and put their jobs on hold: you can’t expect to turn up at an international event and do well unless you have been practising every single day. But this is all designed to help us chase a medal at the worlds and qualify for the Olympics in 2014.”
There is little romance in this pathway to glory. Instead, Muirhead’s march is a steady advance to the summit. But, of course, she has time on her side. Unlike Mick Jagger and Co., Muirhead’s script is all about Rolling Stones with a youthful bent.