Winter Olympics: British curling men fall short of semi-final target

Yahoo Sport UK
Kyle Smith claimed just a handful of shots made the difference as his team exited the Olympic curling tournament in the tiebreakers (picture Andy J Ryan/Team GB)
Kyle Smith claimed just a handful of shots made the difference as his team exited the Olympic curling tournament in the tiebreakers (picture Andy J Ryan/Team GB)

Kyle Smith will learn the lessons of his Olympic curling disappointment and come back stronger in four years time, writes James Toney in PyeongChang.

The British skip was downbeat after losing 9-5 to Switzerland in a play-off tiebreaker, meaning he finishes fifth on his Olympic debut and just fails to make the semi-finals.

The game was close throughout but the tactical experience of rival skip Benoit Schwarz showed in the ninth end, when he grabbed a five to put the contest out of reach and set up a last four clash with favourites Sweden.

But Smith should take inspiration from fellow Scot Eve Muirhead, who was just 19 when she made her debut at the Olympics in Vancouver, finishing seventh.

She claims she learned more about herself – and what was required for success – in that disappointment than any other time, winning bronze four years later in Sochi and playing another semi-final here in PyeongChang on Friday.

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“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 wee brother, that’s something you dream of as a boy,” said Smith, a former world junior champion.

“There are lots of positives to take from this and learn from. We’ve learned a lot about ourselves in some of the tighter games. 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.”

Coach Viktor Kjell, a bronze medallist at the last Olympics in Sochi with Sweden, admitted frustration with the result but also claimed the young team – aged just 25, 24, 22 and 24 – will be back and stronger for the experience.

“I thought we deserved to be in the play-offs. We deserved a better destiny than this,” he said.

Team

“This will take some time to reflect but they’ve learned a lot as a team and a lot as individuals.

“We are very disappointed and I thought we were the better team the whole game but they stepped it up.

“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.”

  • See Eve Muirhead’s semi-final live on Eurosport 2 at 11am tomorrow. Don’t miss a moment of the Olympic Winter Games at Eurosport.co.uk and the Eurosport app 

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