Winter Olympics: Scots to watch in Pyeongchang 2018

Team Muirhead celebrate Olympic bronze at Sochi
Can Team Muirhead better their Olympic curling bronze in South Korea?

A year from today, the 23rd Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, will be declared up and running.

The opening ceremony takes place in the Olympic Stadium, marking the official start of the Games, although as has become the norm recently some sports get under way the day before, curling being one.

Three years ago in Sochi, 18 Scots were selected to represent Team GB, making up just under a third of the 56-strong British team.

And there was medal success too. The all-Scottish curling teams delivered silver and bronze.

With 12 months to go, Scottish athletes have been set their highest combined target for a Winter Olympics and Winter Paralympics by sportscotland.

The sport agency's performance director Mike Whittingham told BBC Radio Scotland on Thursday: "The primary headline goal is 24 Scots or more (in the team). We think we can contribute three or more medals."

So, who are the ones to watch?

Eve Muirhead heading to her third Olympics
Skip Muirhead made her Olympic debut in Vancouver 2010

The women's curling team led by Eve Muirhead will be real medal contenders.

Muirhead says her bronze in Sochi is her career highlight to date, but she'll be trying to better that in South Korea.

Her rink, comprising Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams and Lauren Gray, plus alternate Kelly Schafer, won European bronze on home ice last year.

They are strong favourites to win this month's Scottish Championships, a feat that would secure their qualification for the Worlds next month, before the Olympics beckon.

Team Murdoch win silver at Sochi
Team Murdoch won curling silver at Sochi

The men's curling will also be worth watching in Pyeongchang; the question is which rink will represent GB?

David Murdoch led his team to silver in Sochi, with Tom Brewster as the team's alternate, but since then there's been some toing and froing.

Brewster now leads his own rink and he and fellow skip Murdoch will do battle in the Scottish Championships - for the right to go to the Worlds in April and from there the Olympics.

The rink that eventually represents GB in Pyeongchang will be expected to take a podium spot and one of those three targeted Scots medals. It is a pressure Murdoch says the Scottish curlers should relish.

"Sometimes you need that," he told BBC Radio Scotland on Thursday. "It keeps you pushing and keeps you going in training and in competition. It's a good thing, it shows that they believe in us and shows that our programme is doing something right and that we are medal contenders."

There is also a curling first in South Korea, with a mixed doubles competition. Again the British team will be made up of Scots, with Bruce Mouat and Gina Aitken the reigning champions.

Elise Christie crashes out in Sochi
Christie suffered mishaps over 500m, 1000m and 1500m in Sochi

It's on the ice that another Scot could bring success.

There was despair for Livingston's Elise Christie in Sochi as she was disqualified from all three of her speed skating events.

The 26-year-old has since been crowned European champion in the past two years and is the current 500m world record holder.

Christie is in excellent form again this year, with three 500m and two 1,000m World Cup gold medals.

She will take part in next month's World Short Track Championships. Yet to win a world title, victory in Rotterdam would put her in good shape heading to her third Olympics.

Other Scots in Team GB might not come close to medals but, in terms of best personal performances, they could deliver in Pyeongchang.

Andrew Musgrave will compete in his third Olympics
Musgrave will compete in his third Olympics next year

Andrew Musgrave and Andrew Young, both from Huntley, fall into that category.

This will be Musgrave's third Olympics and in Sochi he became the first British cross-country skier to reach the quarter-finals of the sprint event.

This season he's shown good form, the 26-year-old taking sixth place in 15km freestyle at last month's World Cup in Sweden.

Young, who like Musgrave is based in Norway, also competed in the last two Olympics, and was the first British skier to collect a World Cup medal. in December 2015.

Alex Tilley, from Aberdeenshire, is also a name to look out for. She is likely to compete in the slalom and giant slalom and maybe even in a mixed team event.

She's the top British female Alpine skier, and earlier this season became the first British female to win World Cup points. This month's world alpine championships in Switzerland will gauge her form before she competes in her first Olympics.

Freestyler Murray Buchan is eyeing success in the halfpipe, in his second Olympics.

The Edinburgh skier, 25, - famed for being part of the Ski Sunday opening titles - won silver in last year's British Championships and was 12th in last year's World Cup.

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