Curling - Countdown to Sochi: Winter sports week in review

Eve Muirhead ended an 11-year wait for a Scottish women's curling world champion with an ice-cool performance in Riga - becoming Great Britain's second winter sports world gold medallist this season.


Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams and Claire Hamilton had lost their only two games in Lativa to Margaretha Sigfridsson's Sweden - but they made it third time lucky with a 6-5 win when it mattered in the final. Muirhead, who won silver three years ago, just a few weeks after her Olympic debut in Vancouver, will now head to Sochi as world champion, aware she is being slated as the one to beat. "It's a good boost for us to go into the Olympics as world champions," she said. "The Olympics are going to be fantastic but the main thing is all our hard work has paid off, and it's a massive relief." Scotland's victory books Team GB a quota place at next year's Winter Olympics in Sochi, where they'll be joined by hosts Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, Canada, USA, Denmark and Korea. The two remaining slots in the ten-team tournament will be decided at an Olympic qualifier scheduled for later this year, with 2010 and 2009 world champions Germany and China still looking for their place. Muirhead's success follows Shelley Rudman's gold medal victory at the skeleton World Championships earlier this year. In addition, James Woods won silver at the freestyle skiing World Championships and short track speed skater Elise Christie was a world bronze medallist over 1000m. And if you add a fourth place from slopestyle skier Katie Summerhayes and fifth place from four-man bobsleigh driver John Jackson, at their respective world events, then next year is looking promising for Team GB. Rising teenage star Summerhayes enjoyed another good week with a fourth place finish at the Winter X Games in Tignes - in the vernacular of her chosen sport she declared herself 'stoked' but Woods disappointed, failing to make his final at the showpiece event. However, the 21-year old slopestyle skier still ends the season as overall World Cup champion, despite not taking part in the final event in Sierra Nevada. Elsewhere, Zoe Gillings just missed out on the final at the snowboard cross World Cup in Spain, ranking tenth to drop two places to 12th in the final overall rankings. But Pam Thorburn and Emily Sarsfield were prevented from competing in the final ski cross World Cup as bad weather forced organisers to cancel the event. This week sees the alpine skiing British Championships staged in Meribel, with the blue-riband downhill event scheduled for Wednesday. Dougie Crawford was the top British finisher in the opening men's super giant slalom, finishing just ahead of defending champion TJ Baldwin while Darcie Mead claimed the women's title in the absence of the injured Chemmy Alcott. Dave Ryding will start favourite in the slalom later this week after recently securing the Europa Cup Slalom series title following a season of consistent performances. And Ryding, who made his Olympic debut in Vancouver, will arrive in Meribel in red-hot form, having bettered his best result in a FIS race in winning a slalom in Rogla on Saturday. This Saturday sees the start of the men's curling World Championship in Canada where Tom Brewster's rink, which will be skipped by two-time Olympian David Murdoch and includes Scott Andrews and Michael Goodfellow, will look to improve on the silvers they won in 2012 and 2011. They start their campaign against Japan. © Sportsbeat 2013

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