EVE Muirhead warmed up for her crunch clash with Canadian rival Jennifer Jones today by smashing an Olympic curling record in Sochi.
The British skip and her world champion rink rebounded in style from their opening-day defeat to European gold medallists Sweden by thrashing Erika Brown’s USA team 12-3 with four ends to spare yesterday. And she also rewrote the record books, picking up a seven in the fourth end, a feat never achieved in Olympic curling before.
“For the girls to score that on their first Olympic win is fantastic, that was definitely the turning point for us in that game,” said Muirhead, who admitted to a few nerves as she delivered the stone that secured the magnificent seven.
“I love it when my team play a fantastic end and leave me easy shots like that. You will always take a nose hit for a seven and that was definitely the game changer.
“It was a routine shot for me. That is why we practice twice a day for a couple of hours to make these key shots.
“They are just like any other shot and we practice so when the pressure comes on you make sure you nail that shot because there are no second chances out there.”
And asked how it felt to be an Olympic record holder, Muirhead added: “You are going to take it, aren’t you? I’m surprised actually a little bit that it is a record. But hey ho – we can say we are record-holders!”
However, it doesn’t get any easier for Great Britain with gold medal favourite Jones next up.
Jones has come through an extensive selection process to take her rink to the Olympics and heavily lost to Muirhead in their last encounter, at the recent Continental Cup in Las Vegas.
But she seems to be hitting form when it matters – thrashing Margaretha Sigfridsson’s Swedish team 9-3 with two ends to spare in the morning, meaning she plays Muirhead as one of only two unbeaten rinks – the other being in-form Switzerland. Yesterday the Swiss enjoyed victories over Denmark (7-6) and South Korea (8-6).
“We know we are going to have to come out sharp against Canada,” adds Muirhead.
“They are on two wins and look like they are playing really well. It is going to be a tough game, it is always a big one Great Britain versus Canada.
“We will go back tonight and have another good debrief like yesterday. Yesterday we learned a lot and really put that into our game today, changing a few bits.
“I think we were a wee bit more relaxed tonight. For the girls, it is their first Olympic Games – it was their first Olympic curling game out there yesterday, and everyone was going to be a wee bit edgy. But I think now we have bedded in.”
Meanwhile, Great Britain’s men had to come from behind three times to beat Germany 7-6 in their third round-robin fixture of the Games.
David Murdoch’s rink of Scots had begun the competition at the Ice Cube Curling Centre on Monday by beating hosts Russia 7-4 in the morning, but they came undone in their second match against Sweden, who triumphed 8-4.
Germany also proved to be difficult opponents yesterday, responding to the loss of a point in the first end to forge 3-1 ahead, but Great Britain dug deep into their reservoirs of experience before Murdoch’s side eventually clinched the game in an absorbing tenth and final end.
It was a nervy end to the game for Team GB’s men, but Murdoch is hoping his rink will start to build momentum.
However, he also knows his side have to be on their mettle from the first end of games.
“We are obviously pretty pumped up after winning,” said Murdoch, featuring at his third Games. “We spoke after the game and we were saying how we need to have that attitude for the rest of the games.
“We can’t have a lackadaisical start. We need to come out firing a lot quicker. We really have to be a lot more pumped going into the first few ends and get on top of teams
“It was certainly a game of two halves. We had a terrible first half. The coach had a good talk to us about believing in ourselves and playing the way we can and I think we did that.”
Murdoch explained just how easily his side could have come a cropper against a team who had to qualify for the Games.
“We didn’t set up as well as we like to and we were caught out a couple of times,” he said. “We went for a couple of glory shots but we missed both of them by half an inch, which is hard to take but that is curling at times, it can see-saw.
“But we knew if we played well in the second half of the match we could get into it.
“From what I can see every team is pretty much at the top of their game.
“These Germany guys know what they are doing. They will certainly pick up some wins throughout the week.”