Who said Britain’s chances on the ice were frozen? Scotland, at least, are reminding the rest of Britain what they can do on the rink as the women’s curling team have qualified for the European Championship final.
Eve Muirhead, skip of the team that won last year’s title, progressed to the final after knocking out the hosts, Sweden, in tense fashion. A non-scoring end at the beginning of the 1v2 playoff didn’t exactly set the arena alight, but tit-for-tat exchanges continued right up until the eighth, with the scores tied at 3-3. Fortunately, Muirhead and company – Vicki Adams, Anna Sloan and Claire Hamilton – motored on and stormed the eighth end, winning it 4-0 and effectively putting any hopes for a home final.. on ice. Ahem. Victory was assured with a following 2-0 finalé and Sweden were dumped into the semifinal. Not that it did them much good, as the Russians were able to nick it right at the end to end Sweden’s campaign with two straight losses.
Muirhead appears to thrive on these big occasions and has had to learn the hard way after missing out on the gold medal in 2010. One step closer to defending their title, the skip claimed: “I really enjoyed that game and the girls made my job easy. I love these big games, we’ve trained so hard all season and this shows all our hard work is beginning to pay off.” With seven wins in the group stage and two losses, it’s already been a successful competition for the ladies. They now prepare for the final at 10am this Saturday to see if they can retain their crown.
It wasn’t such good news for the men’s team as they failed to reach the play-off stages. Led by Tom Brewster, the boys had very mixed fortunates in the round-robin games, often alternating between wins and losses in a dizzying display of form. The 1-9 loss to Denmark probably hit them the hardest and they go away having lost more than they won. Qualification for the World Championships next year is still secured, but, as Brewster puts it, “Qualification? That’s great, but ultimately we didn’t come here just to do that. We came here to win medals and we’re disappointed we’re not in the play-offs.”
Whatever happened to them, they fared better than the other British teams. England and Wales’ men’s teams participated in Group B and cannot qualify directly for the Worlds. England still put a good fight, nonetheless, just missing out on bronze against a clinical Netherlands. Wales and a unified Ireland team both finished bottom of their pools. Similarly, England’s women failed to progress out of their group in the second division of fixtures.