Team Muirhead Into Play-Offs At Worlds As They Secure Olympic GB Place
Team Muirhead guaranteed British curling involvement at next year’s Winter Olympics in Korea when they held their nerve to knock both Germany and the Czech Republic out of the competition in claiming a place in the play-offs at the World Championships in Beijing.
It was a second successive perfect day just when the Scots needed it and their vastly experienced coach, four time men’s world champion Glenn Howard, was thrilled with the way they performed under severe pressure.
“Again I can’t be more proud of the girls,” he said.
“We had our backs against the wall. We knew we pretty much had to run the table in the last four games to get in the play-offs and sure enough that was the case.”
Failure in either of yesterday’s matches would have given the Scots extra work that they were keen to avoid.
“Had we lost the last one tonight we would probably have been in a tie-breaker which was definitely what we didn’t want to do, but what a great day,” said Howard.
Eve Muirhead and team-mates Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams and Lauren Gray, had been level on five wins from nine matches with the Germans as the final day began, with the Czechs just one behind at that stage and all three still to play one another. A 7-2 victory for the Scots in the first of those matches meant the Germans were eliminated when they then lost 5-3 to the Czechs who then needed another victory to earn a tie-break.
“We came out blazing and probably our best game as a team was against Germany this morning and then we had a barn-burner against the Czechs,” Howard observed.
“I thought we out-played the Czechs, but their skip made a bunch of key shots to keep them in it. We missed a couple of extra pointers but we played a great 10th end and Eve had a wide open hit to finish it off, got our deuce coming home and we’re on to the play-offs. I couldn’t be happier.”
With three of the Scots – Muirhead, Sloan and Adams - having been in the line-up when they won the world title four years ago, Howard reckoned their knowhow told in the closing stages and particularly in the tactical awareness they demonstrated at the death.
“Their experience of Olympics and World Championships came through in the ninth and tenth ends which we played beautifully,” he said.
“It was a two end game without hammer, which is not a great situation to be in, but we played a great ninth, got the force and then played a brilliant 10th to get the two ender. It just shows we’ve got a lot of grit and a lot of guts to be able to pull it off.
“Eve Muirhead’s a clutch player. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t her best game and she missed a few earlier in the week, but there you go, coming down to the final couple of shots she has to make a perfect come around to the top of the four foot.
“She leaves it a little bit open, which was a bit of a teaser for the Czech skip who has not missed a draw all week, so I was happy she left her this little hack weight tap which is a real finesse shot. It just barely touched the guard which gave Eve a wide open hit for the win.”
Results: Scotland 7 - 2 Germany
Scotland 7 – 6 Czech Republic
For results from the World Curling Federation please click here.
Photos: WCF / Alina Pavlyuchik.