Martin and Murdoch show strength

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The Independent Online

At they reach the halfway point in the nine-game round-robin, Britain's women have three wins and one defeat. The men have won four with one defeat.

Murdoch's team, who had recovered from a 9-5 defeat by the favourites, Canada, on the previous morning with a 6-3 evening victory over the Norwegian defending champions, had the harder task. But an inspired shot by Ewan MacDonald, when he curled his stone around a German block and left it nestling in the centre of the house allowed Britain to steal two points and go 4-2 up in the sixth end.

Martin's team needed to make a similar recovery to the men after Wednesday's 8-6 defeat by the Swedish world champions, having been 5-0 down after three ends. "At least we fought back to the last stone," Martin had reflected.

Less grit was required against a Russian team whose skip, Ludmila Privivkopa, admitted that the fact that they were playing against the Olympic champions had had a psychological effect on her team.

Martin, however, was in no mood for overconfidence. "The score is irrelevant," she said. "A win is a win at this stage, and we've a lot of tough games to go."

The Olympics' newest event, snowboard cross, produced a spectacle that was full of spills and surprises, with riders breaking away from the start four at a time in a rush to be first down a slope full of twisting, turning jumps. However, with several favoured contenders crashing out, the winner was a nailed-on favourite - the US world champion, Seth Wescott.

The Russian biathlete Olga Pyleva was thrown out of the Games and stripped of her silver medal yesterday for failing a drug test, the first athlete caught for doping here. Pyleva, who won silver at the 15-kilometre event on Monday, was scratched just before the start of yesterday's 7.5km sprint. She also won gold and bronze medals at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.

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