By Nicola Kenton
- Great Britain’s women through to Curling semi-finals after beating Canada 6-5 in their final match
- Men beaten by USA; face tie-breaker against Switzerland for last four berth
- Snowboarder Billy Morgan qualifies for Big Air final after finishing sixth in his heat
- XXIII Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea run until February 25
PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA – Great Britain’s curling teams had a mixed day with the women progressing to semi-finals after victory against Canada but the men will have to play a tiebreaker against Switzerland to advance.
GB medal hopes alive
The round-robin section of the curling competitions have been completed with mixed results for Great Britain’s rinks. Eve Muirhead led her team to victory against Canada to secure a semi-final place against Sweden but Kyle Smith‘s team lost to the USA and will have to play a tie-break match against Switzerland on Thursday morning to advance.
Elsewhere, GB snowboarder Billy Morgan progressed to the inaugural men’s Big Air final after an anxious wait, finishing sixth in a high-quality second qualifying heat.
Team Smith rally for play-off spot
When looking at the two Great Britain rinks it is clear that Team Smith has less experience than that of Team Muirhead. However, they were still hoping for a solid start to their competition.
The first day of the round robin matches saw GB having to play against Switzerland and Canada. Both were close games with the Brits edging the Swiss by a score line of 6-5, but they were on the losing side against reigning champions Canada.
Team Smith only had one match on their second and third days of competition. It was another tight match on day two but the Brits managed to secure a 6-5 win against Japan. However, they lost to the number two ranked side in the world on day three losing 8-6 against Sweden. Their fifth match of the tournament was against home team, South Korea and it was not a great performance from Great Britain who lost by a score line of 11-5.
Having lost three out of their five opening matches, the Brits needed to get a run together to remain in contention for a semi-final berth. In their next three matches, Smith skipped his side to victories against Italy, Denmark and Norway to leave them joint third in the table with one match to play.
This left qualification in their own hands, as the rink needed to win their final game against the United States. However, the team did not produce the performance they wanted and lost their final game by a score line of 10-4. They ended the competition in joint third place but on head-to-head results moved down to joint fourth along with Switzerland.
They will now have to beat Switzerland in a tiebreaker match to secure a spot in the semi-final, which will be played later the same day, and a chance for the Brits to claim a guaranteed medal.
Muirhead skips rink to another Olympic semi-final
It was a strong start to the competition for Eve Muirhead’s rink who thrashed the Olympic Athletes of Russia by a score line of 10-3. However, their second match proved much more difficult and the Brits lost 7-4 to the USA.
The rink then got two wins on the bounce with close victories against China and Denmark before coming unstuck against the surprise package of the home team South Korea, who beat them 7-4. They then encountered their third defeat of the competition against Sweden, who they defeated in the 2017 European final.
However, this match was not without its controversy as Muirhead received a hog-line violation on the final stone in the extra end of the game.
To secure a place in the semi-finals, the Brits needed to win their last three matches and they succeeded beating Switzerland, Japan and reigning champions Canada to qualify in third place. As a result of their loss to Great Britain, Canada have also been knocked out of the competition
Team Muirhead will now face Sweden in their semi-final on Friday 23rd, who they have played in recent months including a victory in the European final.
Morgan makes Big Air final despite ear infection
The Big Air event made its’ Olympic debut and Great Britain’s Morgan qualified from his heat to take his place in the final. At the 2014 Games, the snowboarder came 10th in the slopestyle competition but missed out on the final in PyeongChang.
Competing in the second heat, Morgan completed two clean runs with scores of 87.50 and 90.50 to end up in sixth position and advance to the final. Morgan’s GB team mates Jamie Nicholls and Rowan Coultas took part in the first heat but failed to qualify, as they finished outside of the top six.
After an anxious wait in a second pool of some of the highest quality in terms of techincal ability, the Briton snuck into Saturday’s final. But as he told BBC Sport, explained he had been battling through an inner-ear infection:
“When I was on the jump yesterday I thought the scaffolding was shaking but it was the balance in my ears. I woke up at 4am this morning and the ear was completely blocked but I’ve had it syringed and it’s been OK. It went pretty perfect today.”
The final will take place on February 24th with the athletes having three runs to win a medal.
The men’s rink will play their tie-breaker against Switzerland at 00.05 GMT on Thursday 22nd February with the semi-finals later that day. The women’s semi-final takes place at 11.05 GMT on Friday 23rd February.
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