Glenn Howard admits Eve Muirhead is having to keep his feet on the ground as he finally achieves his Olympic ambition.
Howard is a four-time world champion but he never won the match that mattered most – the Canadian Olympic team trial. And it still hurts most that he lost to Kevin Martin in the final trial in 2010, meaning he could not compete in his home games in Vancouver, watching on the television as Martin took gold.
Now tactical coach to Eve Muirhead’s Great Britain rink, Howard admits he has to pinch himself as he strolls around the Olympic Village, albeit not wearing the red and white uniform of Canada.
“I’m 55 years old and I can’t believe I’m finally here,” he jokes. “I haven’t been to an Olympics but I’ve played some big games and I can tell a lot about what they’re going to feel and experience.
“All the girls have been an absolute dream to work with. Eve herself is one of the nicest people you’d ever want to meet.Underneath that sweet veneer she’s a fierce competitor and wants to do everything possible to win. She’s had two Games already, there’s nothing here that’s going to surprise her.
“As a newbie like me you’re coming in and you’re taking it all in but she’s just treating this as another Olympic Games.”
No quarter is asked or given in the cut and thrust world of Canadian curling. There are pre-trials to the trials for their Olympic team, indeed bring the top 10 teams in Canada to the Olympics rather than the top 10 teams in the world and you’d still have some competition. However, Howard admits working with two such inter-connected teams brings its advantages.
David Smith was the British skip when curling was an exhibition sport at the 1988 Games in Calgary, while Gordon Muirhead was the second in Hammy McMillan’s team at the 1992 Albertville Olympics.
Five of their children – half the team – are here in Pyeongchang, a remarkable achievement for two farming families living just 50 miles apart.
Kyle Smith and brother Cammy are taking time off their family dairy farm while Muirhead brothers Glen and Tom are skipping lambing to make their Olympic debuts.
“We’re a close-knit sport,” said Kyle. “When you go to an ice rink at home you will always meet someone that you know. Everyone knows everyone in our sport and it’s a great game to get people talking.”
But while Smith wants to fly under the radar, Muirhead has asked the British public to give her a nickname as she prepares to upgrade her Olympic curling bronze.
Canada’s men’s skip Kevin Koe is nicknamed ‘The Ninja’ and Muirhead wants a piece of the action too – and it must be something more imaginative than ‘Ice Maiden’.
“I’d be pleased for the public to decide a nickname for me,” she said. “I haven’t got one that I know of.”
l Watch Eve Muirhead’s first match against Olympic Athletes from Russia on Eurosport Player tomorrow. Don’t miss a moment of the Olympic Winter Games on Eurosport and Eurosport Player. Go to www.Eurosport.co.uk