Of all Bruce Mouat’s many talents, perhaps his most valuable is his ability to remain entirely unburdened by pressure.

It’s just as well the 29-year-old is, if not oblivious to the pressure that accompanies him every time he steps onto a curling rink, certainly not unduly affected by it.

It’s a skill he and his team must put to good use over the coming days.

Mouat, along with his rink of Grant Hardie, Bobby Lammie and Hammy McMillan, go into the 2024 World Men’s Curling Championships, which begin tomorrow in Switzerland, as defending champions and, despite all he has achieved in his time at the top of the sport, such a status is a new experience for Mouat.

Multiple major championship medals, including four European titles, the full set of gold, silver and bronze World Championship medals, plus an Olympic silver medal points to the experience, as well as the success, that Mouat has amassed over the past decade.

This week, however, having won his maiden world title last year, is the first time he will go into the World Championships as reigning champion.

Rather than being daunted by the prospect, however, the Stirling-based Edinburgh man is relishing the challenge.

“The World Championships is something that we always love being a part of and so going there as defending champions is a pretty nice feeling,” he says.

“Having said that, I won’t think too much about the fact we’re defending champions. I’m definitely not expecting to get an easy path through the draw because we won it last year.

“If anything, it’ll mean we’ve got a target on our backs. But that’s exciting to see what people can bring when they play us.”

The Herald: Bruce Mouat

Mouat and his team have been in the form of their lives this season.

Six international tour titles represents one of the best returns of their careers and they’ve beaten literally every one of their great rivals, including the top two rinks in the world, in recent months.

Such a run of form has, unsurprisingly, proven to be extremely satisfying for Mouat, whose rink is ranked third in the world, but such is his ambition, he’s not even close to stopping striving for more for himself and his squad.

“It’s been an incredible season - we’ve had our ups and downs but overall, we’re very happy,” says Mouat.

“Going into this season, we knew how well things had gone last year but there’s always improvements we want to make.

“We’re good at addressing those weaker areas but we’ll never be at a point where we’ve got nothing more to improve upon – that’s sport, you’re always looking at ways to make yourself better.”

The one blip in Mouat’s season was his team’s defeat in the semi-finals of last month’s Scottish Championships and it says much for the standard of curling in this country that the reigning world champions were defeated in their national championships.

Much of that improvement has been down to Team Mouat pulling up the standard as a whole – Scotland currently has four men’s teams in the world’s top 15 - but rather than express frustration about what his squad has done for the level of competitiveness, Mouat is thrilled to see the sport in this country thriving.

“We feel disappointment more than anything that we’re not Scottish champions this year,” he says. 

“It’s the first year that we’ve played the Scottish as a team and not won so we were pretty gutted at that result.

“But seeing how good the Scottish teams have been this season, it’s good to know that we’re creating a legacy behind us and there’s teams coming through who can compete internationally. 

“It’s a massive compliment that the other Scottish teams respect us but it’s also really good to have the level of competition we do within Scotland because it keeps pushing us forward. It means we can’t rest on our laurels and we can never become comfortable.

“So, as much as it makes it extremely hard to win the Scottish Championships these days, I’m very glad we have that level of competition.”

Mouat was back to winning ways last weekend, claiming victory in the Aberdeen International, beating the 2018 Olympic champions from the USA in the process.

And he goes into this week’s World Championships knowing that there is one result and one result only that will see his team return home entirely satisfied.

“Every game at the Worlds will be tough and we really need to make sure we maintain our concentration for the entire time,” he says.

“We’re going for one thing and that’s gold. We’ve won the world title once and we want to win it again. We’re not going to come away happy with any other colour of medal than gold. 

“It’s nice to be at the stage where that’s our mindset going into a World Championships.”