Sochi 2014: Curlers feed off Yarnold effect

A focused David Murdoch, centre, against Denmark. Picture: ReutersA focused David Murdoch, centre, against Denmark. Picture: Reuters
A focused David Murdoch, centre, against Denmark. Picture: Reuters
DAVID Murdoch congratulated Lizzy Yarnold on winning Britain’s first gold medal of the Winter Olympics in Sochi yesterday – and if his performance on the same day is anything to go by he will also be returning home with a medal.

While Yarnold was effectively doing two victory laps in the women’s skeleton at the Sanki Sliding Centre such was her lead after the first two runs, Murdoch was pulling off an astonishing comeback against Denmark.

At 5-1 down after the fifth end, skip Murdoch’s British men’s rink appeared dead and buried – however, they produced a stunning second-half comeback to run out 8-6 victors.

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The Scots scored three in the sixth and, despite Danish skip Rasmus Stjerne making it 6-4 in the seventh, Murdoch went two, one, one from the next three ends to claim a fourth straight win in Sochi.

Britain are now equal first with China and Sweden on five wins and one loss and even Olympic champions Canada, who they play next, appear no match for them – at least that is the way a proud Murdoch was feeling last night as he basked in the afterglow of Yarnold’s gold.

“I am so proud of Lizzy. She has worked so hard, she has been the dominant force in the World Cup all season and she has done it when it matters,” said Murdoch.

“To get that gold medal is the stuff of dreams and it was a proud day to be British. It was great to be part of that game ourselves and I am really proud of the guys.

“We really believe in ourselves and the confidence is sky high with this team and it’s a great feeling. If we can just keep that confidence and stay sharp we’re dangerous out there.

“We were really pumped for coming out in that sixth end and ready to have a good go at them. We had to take some risks but we got that big three and that turned the match on its head.”

Unlike Yarnold, who has won gold at her very first Winter Olympics, Murdoch has tried twice to no avail to climb the podium having finished fourth in Turin and fifth in Vancouver.

However it could be third time lucky in Sochi with Murdoch admitting that in all his experiences in curling – he is also a two-time world champion – he has never seen anything like their match against Denmark.

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“It was an incredible game. I don’t think I have come out with an adrenalin rush from a game of curling like that since the worlds in 2009,” he added.

“It was outrageous out there with the noise in the stadium from Russia, ice conditions were changing a little bit. There was a huge momentum swing after the sixth end and it is incredible to be part of such a team spirit like that.”

Meanwhile, British women’s skip Eve Muirhead knows first hand that you need dedication if you want to be a record-breaker.

Her rink have been putting hours in at the gym as they seek to turn world gold into an Olympic title in Sochi. And they are still in with a chance of doing that after another record-breaking performance.

Muirhead’s team rewrote the history books with a seven in a single end against the USA earlier in the week and produced a steal for five against Japan yesterday to secure another 12-3 victory.

That gave the British women a record of three wins and two defeats from their five games and left them equal third halfway through the round-robin – with the top four teams progressing to the semi-finals.

“The momentum has been starting to build and we continued it,” said Muirhead. “The girls are all playing really well, setting me up to play these shots – it was a good, solid team performance.”