IT ISN’T unknown for Eve Muirhead to have a temper when competing at the Olympics – and it was back out after her British rink began with defeat in Sochi.
Skip Muirhead caused a stir on her Olympic bow in Vancouver in 2010 when her frustration became so great in a loss to Denmark she broke her broom on the ice.
It is the equivalent of a tennis player smashing their racket on the court and, while she didn’t go quite over that far in Russia, her mannerisms spoke volumes.
Muirhead produced the lowest percentage total of the British rink in their 6-4 loss to Sweden as the Olympic curling tournament officially got going at Sochi 2014.
In a rematch of November’s European Championship final, which Muirhead lost 10-5, Swedish skip Margaretha Sigfridsson once again came out on top.
The reigning world champions did pull level at 3-3 after the sixth end but a Swedish score of two in the seventh effectively put the nail in Muirhead’s coffin.
Muirhead played down the loss in a showing, bereft of the frustration shown on the ice, in front of the media afterwards with eight more group matches to go.
And, as for those emotive glances, stares and groans, Muirhead admits it comes from the perfectionist within and a hatred of losing, no matter what’s at stake. “I am a perfectionist. I am one of those players that is super competitive and I really don’t like losing,” she said. “I am harsh on myself. There were a few shots out there that wer not really like me to miss.
“But we all pull tighter, the girls gave me fantastic support during the middle of the game and if we can take that into our next game that will be good.
“It is always disappointing to lose the first match. It was always going to be a tough one anyway, playing the European champions and world runners-up.
“They are one of the favourites but the game could have gone either way. We got off to a bit of a slow start, managed to claw it back to all square but they played a fantastic shot in the seventh end that gave them that step ahead.
“I think when you go down a few it is always going to be a bit frustrating but I think we played well in the middle half of the game and if we can take that to the next game – and the next game is a new one – we will definitely step it up.”
Muirhead has come on leaps and bounds since a seventh in Vancouver – and her new rink of Anna Sloan, Claire Hamilton and Vicki Adams aren’t the reigning world champions for no reason.
That next outing comes in the form of the USA, who lost their own opening match 7-4 to Switzerland, this evening and Muirhead insists they will be doing their homework.
“The crowd was crazy out there and I think that is one thing that at the start meant there were a few miscommunications,” she added.
“You have got to use a lot of hand signals because there is no way you can hear each other if Russia play a good shot or their opponents miss a shot because the crowd goes wild.
“We know we are going to have to use a lot of hand signals as Russia will be playing when we are again but these are all things that we have learnt from this first draw.
“We will go back and have a good debrief, chat about the game, get our feedback. Now
we have cottoned on to the ice conditions, we will fire a bit sharper from the start.”
Either side of the women, the British men’s rink – skipped by David Murdoch – got up and running with a 7-4 victory over Russia before losing 8-4 to world champions Sweden.
As dominant as they were against the host nation in the morning, they were as much on the back foot against Niklas Edin’s Swedish rink and a score of four in the sixth end effectively sealed the result.
Murdoch admits their next round-robin match against Germany today is a must win as the British men’s rink now play just once a day before the play-offs – something that could work in their favour.
“They were in control for most of the game. We didn’t have a great set up, we were chasing some of the ends and you can’t do that if you want to win these games,” said Murdoch.
“Now we are on one game a day for pretty much the entire tournament so it is a case of winning most of the days. We actually had it in one of the Grand Slam events recently and we played really well that week.
“Germany is a must-win for us, we have to make sure we dominate those guys and come out feeling strong again.”
Canada’s men’s team made a stuttering start to the defence of their title yesterday, following up a scrappy win over unheralded Germany with a surprise loss to Switzerland on a sobering day for the big gold-medal favourites.
By the end of the opening day, Sweden were the only team two-for-two, with wins in tough matches against the Swiss and Britain at the Ice Cube Curling Centre. After becoming the first team in Canada’s storied curling history to go through Olympic trials unbeaten, Brad Jacobs’ rink were widely seen as the overwhelming favorites for the games. But Canada were sloppy in beating Germany – arguably the weakest line-up in the ten-team competition – 11-8 in the morning and then were upset 5-4 by Switzerland in the evening. It has given plenty of hope to their rivals for the gold.
“I’m a little bit surprised,” Sweden player Fredrik Lindberg said. “But they have never been abroad to play a championship and that’s something to consider. And they are expected to win and obviously it has to be a big pressure on them. If they get a tough start, maybe it starts getting to them.”
And it doesn’t get any easier for the Canadians – their only match today is against Sweden in a repeat of the 2013 world championship final. The Swedes won that in Victoria, Canada, in April.
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