Winter Olympics: Curlers in crunch match for play-off place

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GREAT BRITAIN'S women curlers face a crucial match against Germany today with a play-off place the prize after they defeated the United States, 8-5, yesterday but were then beaten, 8-3, by the pre-tournament favourites Canada. That left them joint third, level with Denmark after three wins in five matches.

The men, though, lost to the world champions, Sweden, 7-5, which leaves them struggling to qualify for the last four and a medal. They started with a win over Norway but lost to Canada, Switzerland and now to Sweden.

The biathletes Michael Dixon and Mark Gee started their Olympics with a tough 20km race. Dixon finished 33rd from a field of 75 and Gee 68th.

Great Britain's downhill duo, Graham Bell and Andrew Freshwater, will finally get their chance to race today. The downhill has been postponed since Monday but the weather conditions have improved dramatically, so the two will be ready at Hakuba for the start.

Nicky Gooch, who won a speed skating bronze medal at the last Winter Olympics, was due to resume training yesterday after being forced to take the weekend off in order to recover from a chest infection.

Gooch has been suffering with a cold since arriving in Nagano nine days ago. "It is a case of taking the foot off the accelerator to allow him time to recover," said Gooch's coach, Alan Luke, yesterday.