Winter Olympics: Eve Muirhead delivers to keep GB hopes alive

GB skip Eve Muirhead, right, and Anna Sloane weigh up a shot. Picture: PA
GB skip Eve Muirhead, right, and Anna Sloane weigh up a shot. Picture: PA
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Eve Muirhead remained ice cool to deliver a shot that kept alive her Olympic dreams – but now she only expects the pressure to increase.

The British skip knew she couldn’t afford to lose to her Swiss rivals, but was trailing 7-6 heading into the final end of an encounter of crippling incremental tension.

She produced the goods with her last stone, meaning qualification for the knockout stages is still all to play for with two group matches remaining.

“I could see about an inch of that stone,” she admitted.

“I train for those shots every day and nine times out of ten I’d make them but it is different when the pressure is on and you’re on the big stage.”

Coach Glenn Howard, a four-time world champion, praised Muirhead’s nerves – but admitted his were shredded.

“That was a pretty tough last shot she played and she buzzed it down like it was nothing. But that’s Eve Muirhead, she makes the clutch shots when it matters,” he said.

Anna Sloan was also in no doubt that Muirhead would deliver with all the pressure on and conceded it wouldn’t get any easier.

“We’ve got two more big games now and we expect them both to go down to the wire again,” she said.

“I’ve always got confidence that Eve is going to take the shot down. She went for it and I just believed she’d make it.

“We’ve been pretty close all week and we’ve not quite got all the wins we needed. We expect these teams to force us to the final end. We’ve got another level to realise yet.”

Match after match at this Olympic tournament is going to the final stone or extra end. It’s certainly not good for those of a nervous disposition.

No team is running away at the top of the standings but no team is struggling either.

Japanese skip Satsuki Fujisawa, whom Muirhead must still face, inflicted a second straight defeat on Sweden’s Anna Hasselborg, the pre-Games favourite.

And Canadian world champion Rachel Homan – Muirhead’s other remaining opponent – has lost as many games as she has won.

“As a team we knew that every game would be tough but I never expected every match to be so tight,” added Muirhead. “It’s so close and it’s certainly exciting to watch I suppose, with lots of unusual results.”

Meanwhile, Kyle Smith’s British men’s rink were buzzing with confidence after their second straight win, also secured with the final stone, against Denmark. They have won four from seven but next up is Thomas Ulsrud’s Norway.

“We’ve played Norway a lot and they’ve got years of experience in their team,” he said.

“We beat them when we last played at the European Championships but they’ve beaten us plenty of times too. We’ve got room to step it up a little and, if we do that, I think we will be all right.

“After we went to two wins and three losses, we knew we had to win a couple of games and it’s looking much more positive now we’ve had those results against Italy and Denmark.

“We need to keep that same strategy for the next two games now and we won’t be far away.”

l Watch Team GB’s curlers in action today on the Eurosport Player and Eurosport 1. Don’t miss a moment of the Olympic Winter Games at eurosport.co.uk and the Eurosport app.