Canadian women remain unbeaten in curling
Canada's skip Jennifer Jones delivers the rock during the women's curling competition against Britain at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP / Wong Maye-E)
The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, February 12, 2014 8:12AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, February 12, 2014 11:31AM EST
SOCHI, Russia -- A missed gamble by British skip Eve Muirhead allowed Canada's Jennifer Jones to remain unbeaten in women's curling round-robin play at the Sochi Olympics.
With the clock running down and her team behind 8-6 to Canada at the women's Olympic tournament, Muirhead could have played an easy draw to the button with her last stone to take a tense game to an extra end at 8-8.
Instead, she gambled on removing three tightly bunched Canadian rocks to pick up three points for the win. The move backfired, and Canada clinched a 9-6 victory to stay unbeaten in three round-robin games.
"It was a gamble but ... that's the skip," Muirhead said. "They get the glory when they make them or the slack if they miss them."
Jones said she "probably would have thrown the draw to go to the extra end."
"It was a tough triple to get everything to spin out," Jones said, "but I guess she makes them a lot."
In a back-and-forth game, Canada (3-0) had scored three in the fifth end to take a 6-3 lead but Britain kept chipping away and pulled to within one in the eighth. Jones restored a two-point lead with a single in the ninth and added an insurance point in the 10th.
Canada -- in search of its first gold medal in the women's tournament since Nagano in 1998 -- also scored a pair in the third and singles in the first and seventh ends.
Muirhead and her British squad (1-2), took doubles in the fourth and sixth ends and singles in the second and eighth.
Canada, which earlier recorded wins over China and Sweden, will play twice on Thursday, against Denmark followed by Switzerland.
At least the world champion Brits still have a decent chance of qualifying.
The same can't be said of the United States.
Erika Brown's rink lost its fourth straight, 7-4 to China, and likely will need to win all five of its remaining round-robin games to stand a chance of reaching the semifinals.
"We are going to stay upbeat whatever happens," Brown said. "We worked really hard to be here. We are doing our best out there and we'll keep fighting."
In other matches in the afternoon session, defending champion Sweden beat Korea 7-4 and host nation Russia lost to Japan 8-4.
China, Japan and Sweden are all 2-1.
As Muirhead pondered what might have been after her game-defining shot went awry, Jones shuffled down the ice toward a small band of Canadian fans and gave them a round of applause.
It was as much a celebration of relief as happiness.
Jones -- the in-form skip in Sochi -- played another great game, making 93 per cent of her shots, and generally outshining Muirhead.
Still, Britain had the hammer going into the final end and was left with a shot -- albeit a difficult one -- for victory. Muirhead couldn't resist going for it but failed to catch the first Canadian stone at the right angle.
Muirhead had no regrets.
"We like to call an aggressive game," she said. "I don't go for shots if I don't think they are there, I'm not one of those glory hunters. I thought it was there."
All is not lost for the British. They have played -- and lost -- arguably their two toughest round-robin games against Sweden and now Canada. They should still pick up enough wins to make the top four.
"It would have been nice to get a win against one of them but at the end of the day, we are not down and out," Muirhead said. "We have to make sure we don't drop too many more."