Neilson’s rink close to place in play-offs

Aileen Neilson: Touching distance of play-offs. Picture: Getty Images
Aileen Neilson: Touching distance of play-offs. Picture: Getty Images
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AILEEN Neilson believes her wheelchair curling rink are within touching distance of the play-offs after they quickly – and impressively – recovered from Britain’s heaviest-ever Winter Paralympic loss in Sochi.

Despite winning three games on the bounce at the Ice Cube Curling Centre, Neilson found herself in an awful lot of trouble as Britain fell 8-1 behind at the halfway stage of their first match of Tuesday against Finland.

Skip Neilson was even replaced by alternate Angie Malone – a veteran of the silver-medal winning British team at Turin 2006 – for the remainder, Britain ending up on the end of a 13-4 loss to hand the Finns their first win.

Norway next up proved a tough challenge too, having defeated two-time defending champions Canada the evening before, but consecutive steals in ends four and five saw Britain, with Neilson back as skip, take a 4-1 advantage.

A two in the sixth had Norway just one behind at 4-3 – however a fantastic takeout from Neilson at the next end saw Britain score three with Norway simply having no answer even with the last stone.

That result put the British team third in the overall standings with four victories and two losses and three round-robin matches remaining – and Neilson even afforded herself a smile at the events of the day.

“We are delighted to get the win against Norway,” said Neilson.

“After our game in the morning we had to dig deep and I’m happy to show a bit of delight and relief.

“We just didn’t execute our game and, if you are up against a team that has brought their best game, you need to match that and we just couldn’t do that. Obviously there is a fifth player here for a reason and we needed to change it up and change the dynamics to bring something new to the table and I was happy to do that for the team. The decision came from the coach and we are here as a team of five so, when that happens, it is what we do to get back on track that is important too. I think it showed that no matter if we throw a good stone or a bad stone we stick together.”

Heavy fog and rain made for trickier skiing conditions up at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Centre – so much so that the morning’s super-G phase of the men’s and women’s super combined was postponed.

The action finally began in the afternoon with the slalom aspect first instead with British pair Jade Etherington and guide Caroline Powell producing a solid run to lie second overall in the visually impaired race.

The super combined will now be completed on Friday with the super-G element with Etherington and Powell just needing to finish to win their third medal because only three pairs remain in the competition.

Britain’s newly crowned first-ever Paralympic champions Kelly Gallagher and guide Charlotte Evans crashed out of that race, while seated skiers Anna Turney and Mick Brennan are in fifth and ninth place respectively at the halfway point.

Before then, the women’s slalom has been moved forward from Friday to today with both Gallagher and Evans and Etherington and Powell back out at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Centre.

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