Mixed fortunes for British curlers

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The Independent Online

David Murdoch steered Great Britain's curling men towards a semi-finals spot while Eve Muirhead blamed herself for leaving the women's team on the brink of elimination on Day 11 of the Vancouver Olympics.

While Murdoch, Ewan MacDonald, Pete Smith and Euan Byers continued their improving form with an 8-2 win over Germany, 19-year-old women's skip Muirhead was left frustrated by mistakes that gifted Denmark a 9-8 win.



Britain's men now face already qualified Norway on Tuesday and a win should see them into the semi-finals.



"That was a really solid performance, the type of form that we expect from ourselves," said Murdoch. "We're glad to see it's happening, that's been three solid games and the team usually does that by the time it gets to the end of the week in major championships.



"I think there's still a little to go, I don't think we're maxed out yet but we're certainly coming into the type of form we're looking for.



"You don't want to peak at the start of the week. This is the business end of the week we're getting into and it's good to see that every one of us is playing great shots."



Meanwhile Muirhead was ruing a couple of costly slack shots in a 9-8 defeat against Denmark.



She broke her curling broom by banging it on the ice in sheer frustration after her misjudged final stone in the ninth gifted the Danes two vital points.



And despite a gallant attempt to retrieve the situation on the final end Britain went down to a fourth straight defeat that leaves their chances of finishing in the top four hanging by the slenderest of threads.



Britain face round robin table toppers Canada on Tuesday knowing that only a surprise win over the hosts and a combination of other favourable results can keep their Olympic dream alive.



"There were a couple of slack shots in the second half, definitely by myself in the ninth end, which cost us a two," said Muirhead.



The British quartet of Muirhead, Jackie Lockhart, Kelly Wood and Lorna Vevers led 6-4 after the sixth end but Muirhead's first wayward moment saw Denmark take the initiative. Her final stone was too light and Danish fourth Madeleine Dupont's hammer helped give them three points.



Britain levelled at 7-7 after eight ends but a Muirhead miss with her final stone in the ninth opened the door for two more Danish points.



Trailing 9-7 on the final end Muirhead had to take out three Danish stones and stay in order to bring a second scoring stone. She took out two but the third stayed and one point was not enough to take the game into an extra end.



"We were so close on the last shot," said Muirhead, "a foot away from making a three for the win in the last end.



"It's frustrating and it's going to be hard to put that behind us but it's going to have to be done and we'll move on."



After the match Great Britain curling coach Nancy Murdoch swiftly ruled out any possibility of an appeal after a Danish player accidentally caught a Danish stone with her foot on the final end.



Sinead and John Kerr finished what could prove their final Olympics in eighth place at the Pacific Coliseum as Canadian pair Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir claimed historic ice dance gold for the hosts.



Despite setting a series of season's bests in the competition to finish with a total score of 186.01, medal contention proved a long way off for the Scots, although the crowd was impressed with their routine to Linkin Park's 'Krwing'.



John Kerr said: "Obviously we always want to finish as high as we can and get in a medal position. It's disappointing because we wanted to be higher but so long as you give it your best you can't complain."



British number two pair Nick Buckland and Penny Coomes completed a promising first season on the senior circuit with a season's best total score of 143.61 to finish in 20th position.



The Kerrs praised the performance of their potential future successors, who have made the tough decision to head to the United States to train alongside their team-mates.



Sinead Kerr said: "It's great to be in the position of being a mentor because we are in the last few years of our careers and we see a lot of potential in them as a pair. We are definitely willing to help them."



For Coomes and Buckland, the target is very much Sochi.



Buckland said: "The next step for us is to train more and become full-time athletes with one of the best coaches in the world. We plan to go to America full time and put all our energy into getting to Sochi."



British cross country skiing teenager Andrew Young succumbed to a cold on his leg of the team sprint in Whistler but did gain valuable experience for future Olympic Games.



It had been a close call for 17-year-old Young to enter the race with 19-year-old team-mate Andrew Musgrave and cross country team leader Roy Young pulled him out of his leg on the final lap.



Young, who was 74th in the 15km freestyle and 60th in the individual sprint classic, said: "My legs were really tired today and I didn't ski that well but I've got experience that no else of my age in the world has got and that's definitely stands our cross-country team in good stead for future Games and future competitions."



Musgrave said: "It's been awesome being here and my skiing shape is really good at the moment. I'm going to go into next year pretty confident I can step up and make the jump to senior level."



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