Day 8 is sure to bring plenty of incredible action at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, and it all kicked off with a full slate of curling.
Both the men and women are still in the round-robin portion of the Games and three matches in Session 8 of the women’s tournament was how Day 8 began. Great Britain played South Korea, China faced off with Sweden and Canada squared off against Japan.
The middle of the women’s standings could not have been closer heading into Session 8, with one game in the loss column separating third place from eighth place. That put extra importance on this slate of round robin matches.
Here is a look at the early results:
|Great Britain||10-8||South Korea|
Women’s Curling: Great Britain vs. South Korea
Great Britain stood at 3-2 heading into its showdown with South Korea, but it was riding a stretch of momentum.
The defending world champions scored seven points in one end against the United States and then followed that up three days later with a five-point steal (good enough for an Olympic record) in a 12-3 win over Japan.
Curler Anna Sloan commented on the direction the team was headed to reporters afterward in an Associated Press story relayed by the Los Angeles Times: “Unfortunately you don't get any prizes (for breaking records). But it is always good and it shows that we are performing well and going in the right direction towards the end of the round-robin.”
The momentum was nonexistent early against South Korea, as Curling Zone pointed out:
However, multiple steals helped the British overcome the early deficit, and it held a 7-4 lead after seven ends.
Just when it looked like the British were heading to victory, a near collapse occurred:
While South Korea deserves credit for fighting back and taking the lead, there was little it could do in the 10th end when the British had the hammer. Eve Muirhead’s pressure-packed final toss knocked the Korean stone out and gave Great Britain a critical 10-8 victory.
Women’s Curling: China vs. Sweden
There was plenty at stake when the 3-2 Chinese team faced off with the 4-1 Swedish team.
With so much pressure on the Olympic match, getting off to a quick start was important. That’s exactly what China did:
China jumped out to a commanding 3-0 lead through three ends and looked to be in control of the match from the early going. However, Sweden gradually chipped away at the deficit and cut it to 3-2, before things got dramatic in the sixth and seventh ends.
China posted two points in end six, but Sweden once again found a way to answer with two points of its own in end seven.
End nine presented Sweden with an opportunity to pick up three points, but a heavy draw forced it to settle for two:
It ended up being a critical missed chance because China used the hammer to its advantage in the final end, picking up a point and the 7-6 victory.
Women’s Curling: Canada vs. Japan
No team in the women’s side of the curling competition has been as impressive as Canada. The victory over Japan moved the Canadians to 6-0 and dropped the Japanese team to 2-4.
There was a bit of a dramatic moment in the third end with a measurement that went Canada’s way, causing the Canadian Curling Association to celebrate:
It gave Canada a quick 4-2 lead, although Japan bounced right back.
In what amounted to a back-and-forth affair, Canada picked up a critical two points to retake the lead in the seventh end:
Perhaps the most important moment of the entire match came in the eighth end when Canada stole a point to create some separation with a 7-5 lead. Losing points when you have control of the hammer is never a recipe for success, especially late in a tightly contested Olympic showdown.
Canada eventually took a one-point lead and the hammer into the 10th end and took care of business, as expected, winning 8-6.
Men’s Curling: Canada vs. Great Britain
The Canadian men are rolling through Sochi, having just picked up their fifth-straight win against a struggling British squad.
Team captain David Murdoch spoke about what his side must do to recover from the disappointing 7-5 loss, as per TeamGB.com:
"We will need to bin that one and move on. We have got two big games now, to get over that finish line into the semi-final and we certainly need a few more wins if we are going to do that."
Murdoch missed a potential double takeout by a fraction of an inch and now Great Britain will have to work to get into the playoffs by winning the upcoming showdown against Norway.
It was Britain’s first loss in four games and they will take on Norway on Sunday before closing round robin play with a Monday meeting against China.