On the brink of a medal shot for a second successive day in Pyeongchang, Britain’s men's curlers failed to seize their opportunity and crashed out of the Olympics empty handed.
Kyle Smith’s side were only forced into Thursday morning’s play-off after they were thrashed 10-4 by the United States in their final round-robin match when victory would have secured a place in the semi-finals.
Given another chance in a play-off against Switzerland – who ended the round-robin stage with an identical record of five wins and four defeats – Britain started strongly to take a 4-1 lead inside four ends.
A couple of errors then allowed the Swiss to haul themselves back into the match before their skip, Benoit Schwarz, inflicted a devastating knockout blow in the penultimate end.
Threading his final stone expertly between two guards, Schwarz ridded the house of the lone British stone and ensured a rare five-point end to Switzerland, who triumphed 9-5.
Smith had been hoping to emulate the achievement of skip David Murdoch, who led Britain to silver in Sochi four years ago – their only medal in the men’s event since the sport was reintroduced to the Games in 1998.
“We started off very strong, we put ourselves in a great position and a couple of missed shots were the difference in the game,” said Smith.
“They are a good, aggressive team and when they make a lot of shots it is hard to defend against.
“We gave it our best shot but that’s the dream over. I’ll take a lot from the experience coming to the Olympic Games with my best friends and my brother, that’s something you dream of as a boy.
“We were two wins and three losses and we’ve got back into the tournament beating some of the best teams in the world.
“It’s a sore one, we gave ourselves the chance of making the semi-finals but we couldn’t make it happen.”
Britain’s coach Viktor Kjell felt his side deserved a semi-final spot.
“We are very disappointed and I thought we were the better the team the whole game, but they stepped it up,” he said.
“I just don’t know what happened in that ninth end. We missed four or five shots in a row and you cannot afford to do that at this level.
“I thought we’d almost got away with it and then he plays a pistol shot and walks away with a five.
“I thought we deserved to be in the play-offs. We deserved a better destiny than this.”
Britain’s women are still firmly in the hunt to match their bronze-medal winning exploits from Sochi, with Eve Muirhead preparing to lead her side in a semi-final against Sweden on Saturday evening.