Downhill racer Alcott refuses to be led astray on Valentine's Day

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The Independent Online

On the eve of her big day, the British downhill skier Chemmy Alcott improved her position to 19th place after her final training run yesterday and then insisted that she intended to ignore Valentine's Day in her unlikely quest for a medal and fully focus on today's competition at San Sicario Fraiteve.

The 23-year-old from Twickenham said: "No boys in my room tonight - I need to stay focused. The first and second day I was good, but today I was terrible but faster."

Another Briton to impress was Rhona Martin, who demonstrated that she has lost none of the composure and sureness of touch that helped Britain earn curling gold four years ago as she pressured a strong Swiss team into a 5-4 defeat in the second of the round-robin matches.

Having defeated Denmark 3-2 on day one, the British quartet of Martin, Jacqui Lockhart, Kelly Wood and Lynn Cameron came through a tight match, despite the fact that Switzerland held the "hammer" - the advantage of launching the final stone - in the last of the 10 ends.

Two mistakes by the Swiss skip, Mirjam Ott, the only player remaining from the side which lost to Britain in the Salt Lake final, allowed Martin to score the decisive point. The British team were trailing 4-3 in the eighth end, but an outstanding draw from Martin levelled the match as her final stone nestled in the centre of the house, surrounded by four Swiss stones that no longer scored.

Martin's team will need to be at the top of their game again today as they take on the world champions, Sweden, who defeated the perennially strong Canadian team on Monday. They will have taken heart, however, from the Swedes' surprise 10-3 defeat by Norway yesterday.

Britain's men, who won both their opening-day matches, against the hosts, Italy, and New Zealand, face more challenging opposition this morning in Canada, the Olympic silver medallists of 2002. David Murdoch's team will then regroup for an evening match against the defending champions, Norway, who were beaten by an unheralded United States team in the first match of the competition.

Britain's Noel Baxter finished 36th in the downhill element of the combined downhill, with two slalom runs to go. The opening race was won by the American Bode Miller, who was then disqualified after straddling a gate in the first run. Miller finished fifth in the main downhill event on Sunday and was later rumoured to have been in a bar on Saturday night. Maybe his lifestyle is catching up with him.

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