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Aberdeen’s Rebecca Morrison targets play-offs as she prepares to lead Scotland rink at World Women’s Curling Championship

Rebecca Morrison. Image: WCF/Ansis Ventins
Rebecca Morrison. Image: WCF/Ansis Ventins

Aberdeen’s Rebecca Morrison says her rink’s “first goal” at the LGT World Women’s Curling Championship is to secure a play-off berth.

Team Morrison fly out to Sweden on Wednesday, ahead of the competition in Sandviken getting under way on Saturday.

The back-to-back Scottish champions suffered worlds heartache on their event debut in Canada in 2022, with Morrison ruled out of the tournament by Covid during the pre-tournament camp and the rest of the side beginning the round-robin phase before they, too, tested positive.

So the coming days represent their first real chance to test themselves – and show how they stack up – against the globe’s best teams.

Aberdeen’s Rebecca Morrison and her rink after retaining their Scottish women’s curling title for 2023. Image: Scottish Curling

Skip Morrison, 26, is determined to make an impact following last year’s aborted worlds mission, as they aim to become one of six teams to progress from the opening 13-team group stage to the knock-out phase.

She said: “We’re aiming for play-offs and we’ll take it from there if we make them.

“If we make the play-offs, we can talk about our next goal.”

Kincorth’s Morrison and her rink – vice-skip Gina Aitken, second Sophie Sinclair and lead Sophie Jackson – won European bronze on their major tournament debut in Sweden in November, and it is a source of confidence for them heading into worlds.

Morrison said: “I think a lot of the experiences we got at Europeans will stand us in good stead for the world championships – especially getting wins against some of the other good teams.

Rebecca Morrison and her team in action at the European Curling Championships 2022, Östersund, Sweden. Image: WCF/Celine Stucki

“That gives us confidence for the games we’re going to have.

“Playing in a medal game and having that kind of pressure is something I hadn’t experienced before, so to get that kind of experience back in November was really good.”

Taking on curling’s global elite

Still, some of the sides the Scots will come up against in the round-robin phase – where every team plays each once – will be new to them, while others have the medals to prove their pedigree.

Morrison added: “I think Switzerland, having won the last three worlds, they’re a big name and will be a tough one to take down.

“Alongside that, you’ve got Japan, who won the Pan-Continental Championships, so they’ve had a good season, and have won a slam as well.

“Of course, you’ve got the home nation Sweden as well – they had a disappointing Europeans, but at any championships they’re expected to do very well.

Switzerland’s triple world title-winning rink, led by Silvana Tirinzoni (top), competing at last year’s Beijing Winter Olympics. Image: PA

“So there are lots of great teams there we’re expecting to be difficult challenges.

“We’ve played some of these teams on tour, but there are others we’ve never played against.

“It poses a new challenge when you play teams and don’t know what moves they’re going to make next and stuff like that.”

Support in Sweden –and at home

After flying into Stockholm today, Team Morrison will make the two-hour drive north to Sandviken on Thursday.

The relatively near-at-hand location of this year’s worlds to home means the players will have friends and family, including Morrison’s mum Fiona, cheering them on from the stands when they begin their tournament against Germany in Saturday’s evening session.

The north-east curling star also knows, should they build winning momentum at the event, the backing for the team in Scotland will intensify – boosting not only her rink, but the sport itself.

She said: “It’s really nice to have your parents there when things are going well or tough, as either way you’re going to want your support system there, so we’re really excited about that.

“We’ve all got parents coming or other family members.

“It’s great as well, because it gives you a bit of motivation when people are in the stands and cheering you on.”

“I’m sure once it gets to the play-off stage – if we’re there – the interest back home will be really high.

“It was the same for the World Junior Championships which just occurred – as soon as Team Scotland were in both the play-offs, everyone back home, including my team, were so excited to tune in and watch the girls and the boys play.

“I reckon if we do get to the play-offs there will be a huge interest. Amongst curlers there definitely will be, but hopefully outside the curling community there will be a little bit as well.”