So the Winter Olympic journey is over and there was to be no fairytale ending for Team Great Britain but the history they have made and the medals they are coming home with make for a wonderful story.
With Eve Muirhead and the girls having secured a bronze medal on Thursday it was up to the men to try and capture Great Britain’s first men’s curling gold since 1924 against Brad Jacobs and Canada.
In a tournament where David, Greg, Scott and Michael had occasionally dazzled us with brilliant shotmaking and exemplary teamwork it was a shame for them to finish their campaign with something of a whimper against the Canadians.
But I’m not here to spread doom and gloom, question the five-man system or to rise to the frankly embarrassing and misguided Tweets that were coming out of Canada during the game – I’d instead like to reflect on a job well done from Team GB’s curlers.
The first end of the men’s final was not what we have come to expect from teams like these and Canada ended up taking their two with the hammer. This was a lead that not only would they never surrender, but one that they would extend as the British boys just didn’t seem to be at the races.
Looking to get back on terms, Great Britain could only score a single in two and cracks were beginning to show. The third end was to be the turning point.
Jacobs and his team had built up a collection of stones in the house and when David Murdoch wrecked on a guard with his final stone the alarm bells were ringing. Jacobs drew for three and GB were 5-1 down.
An umpire’s measure that gave the Canadians a steal of one in the fourth would have dashed the hopes of even the most ardent GB fan. The lead was cut by another British single in five but the damage had been done and the score at the break was 6-2.
A Canadian two straight after the break killed off any GB resolve to keep going and the remaining ends seemed a formality. Another single from GB when David couldn’t stick his shooter and a single from Canada in eight and it was all over.
After the game, Great Britain skip David Murdoch reflected. He said: “I’m disappointed, that was the opportunity of a lifetime but it wasn’t meant to be today. We did everything we could to try to start well, and we just didn’t. We had a poor start and gave them a lot of confidence as well. Obviously going 5-1 down, it’s always going to be an uphill struggle after that. The first three ends cost us the game. It didn’t really matter what we did in the second half.”
A 9-3 defeat in an Olympic final looks bad on paper but it in no way reflects the tournament the GB boys had. Right from the outset they never looked like they were in the final and it was effectively over as a contest within three ends – they made it too easy for the Canadians.
It was a disappointing way to end the campaign and we would have loved to have seen a nail-biting, ten-end game with high drama but it just never materialised. I think the biggest drama was Michael Goodfellow being asked to change his shirt during the game…
On reflection, however, a silver medal is an amazing achievement.
Before this tournament, Great Britain’s men and women only had one medal each in Olympic curling history – they now have four between them.
In their pre-Sochi predictions I don’t think many people believed that the men could get a medal, myself included. Maybe a scraped bronze or a close tie-breaker game so to secure a silver medal is superb and I am sure we are all very proud of David, Greg, Scott, Michael and, of course, Tom Brewster. It was Tom that assembled three-quarters of this team after all and despite not throwing a stone in Russia this medal is as much, if not more, his than anyone’s
Before the men’s final we had the bronze medal game between Sweden and China – this proved to be an interesting one to watch.
World Champion skip Niklas Edin and his team (above) claimed Sweden’s first men’s Olympic curling medal since 1924 after stealing two in an extra-end against Rui Liu’s China.
A close contest, it was two hogline violations by the Chinese players that surprised the viewers and made for some interesting changes in strategy from the Swedes.
They played the extra-end really well and left Liu nothing to work with – worthy winners of an Olympic medal.
Final Men’s Rankings (W-L)
9-2 Canada (Gold)
7-5 Great Britain (Silver)
9-2 Sweden (Bronze)
So that was the 2014 Winter Olympic curling competition. After all the buildup and excitement it was over in the blink of an eye.
I will have a review of the Games in the near future including medal pictures, statistics and my own reflections on my first Olympics that I have blogged on.
I apologise for not having any final day content from the Scottish Championships on here yet but rest assured it is coming – if you schedule a national championship for the same time as the Olympics then people get behind I guess…
Anyway, I hoped you enjoyed all the action and have been inspired by our medal-winning teams to work hard and support your teammates next time you are out on the ice.
To Eve, Anna, Vicki, Claire and Lauren and to David, Greg, Scott, Michael and Tom we are very proud of you all – well done guys!
Only another four years until Pyeongchang…
Photos are © WCF/Richard Gray and WCF/Michael Burns 2014