Sochi 2014: Swiss stall GB curling push

Great Britain’s women’s curling team suffered a setback in their bid for a place in the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics semi-finals as they stumbled to an 8-6 defeat to Switzerland in their second round-robin fixture of the day.

Great Britains Claire Hamilton, left, and Anna Sloan, right, sweep Vicki Adams delivery. Picture: Getty
Great Britains Claire Hamilton, left, and Anna Sloan, right, sweep Vicki Adams delivery. Picture: Getty

Earlier, Eve Muirhead’s all-Scottish world-champion rink had beaten South Korea 10-8 to register their third straight win, but their momentum was then halted by a Swiss outfit who had lost their previous three matches.

In the afternoon session, the GB men’s team lost to Canada by 5-7 when skip David Murdoch’s last stone of the game just missed. However, even with these results both teams stay on track for semi-final qualification.

For the women, a disappointing sixth end for Muirhead’s rink saw them concede three points, sending their opponents into a 6-2 lead, and although Team Muirhead battled back so it was 7-6 to the Swiss going into the tenth, Mirjam Ott’s team were able to see out the victory, leaving both rinks with a record of four wins from seven games and in joint-third with China.

Muirhead admitted that it was probably her most frustrating game of a competition so far.

However, with the final two round-robin matches to come tomorrow against Russia and Denmark – both lower ranked than GB – she remains confident of finishing in one of four qualifying places along with Canada, who are through with seven straight wins following their 5-3 victory over the host nation. “It’s in our own hands,” she said. “We have a day off and we will definitely take advantage of that, and then on Monday we need to come back strong against Russia and Denmark.”

Muirhead was critical of the ice, which she claimed might have been affected by debris from the 
overhead television camera.

“It is a tricky sheet of ice,” she said. “It’s not often I say we were unlucky or struggling with ice – I usually cotton on to it pretty quickly, but I did struggle with it, I think all of us did.

“There was word that it was the camera that flies back and forward, stuff [was] coming off that and it is not ideal when you do have pick-ups. It is out of our control, but it kind of wrecks the game a little bit,” she added.

In the women’s morning game, Korea had last stone in the first end and used that to open with two points, but Britain moved ahead in the second end when skip Jisun Kim could not get inside two of four British counters, leaving Muirhead with a straightforward draw for three and a 3-2 lead.

Korea blanked the third end and then Britain added single steals in both the fourth and fifth ends, for 5-2 at halfway. The game looked to be going Korea’s way in the ninth end when Muirhead was short with her final draw. This gave Korea an 8-7 lead but with the last stone of the game Muirhead came round a guard to tap out a counting Korean stone and score three points for a 10-8 victory.

In the men’s game against Canada, the Canadians scored one in the ninth end to go 6-5 ahead. In the tenth, Murdoch had the chance to win but his double take-out attempt to score two points just missed the second stone, giving Canada a one-point steal one point and a 7-5 win.

After the game, Canada’s Jacobs said “we got lucky. That was a big break but to win events you need big moments like that. Dave threw that last rock perfect. It was just crazy out there”.

Meanwhile a gutted Murdoch said, “you’re talking one millimetre – one millimetre on the high side and that’s the game. People in other sports have inches to play with, we’ve got millimetres. That was a pretty cruel blow. We were tactically smart, we played well. We put a lot of pressure on them and we didn’t get the win”. He went on, “we’ll be pretty mad for a little while, but we just need to bin that one and move onto tomorrow”.

The British women now share third place with China and Switzerland and must win one of their two remaining games to ensure at least a tie-break.

The men also share third place with Norway and table-toppers China to play. and the way the standings lie, they are already assured of a tie-breaker, but will be looking for a direct semi-final slot from their two remaining games.