Britain’s golden dream is crushed by Canada
British curling veteran Jackie Lockhart has backed teenage skip Eve Muirhead for a long and successful Olympic career after her steep learning curve in Vancouver.
The 19-year-old led Team GB for the final time at the Vancouver Olympic Centre yesterday as they bowed out of the tournament with a record of three wins and six defeats to miss out on a semi-final place.
The British quartet lost 6-5 in extra ends to hosts and gold-medal favourites Canada but team-mate Lockhart, a world championship-winning skip for Scotland in 2002, believes Muirhead can only be stronger for the experience.
“It will stand her in great stead,” Lockhart, 44, said of the current skip. “It would have been lovely for us to come out and win and finish on a huge high but you learn so much from defeats that it makes you a much better person than when you win a game.
“I firmly believe in that and that's why you've got to look ahead.”
Muirhead's team came into the Olympic competition ranked seventh in the world and are likely to finish the tournament in a similar position.
Lockhart, who has played on four British teams at Winter Games in 1992, when curling was only a demonstration sport, 1998, 2006 and 2010, believes there is much more to come from the Scottish teenager.
“It's a huge learning curve for her and hopefully she'll recover from this and move on because she has so many years in front of her,” Lockhart said.
“She's got fantastic potential considering that she's 19-years-old at the minute. There's many people who wouldn't have reached that level until they're 30, never mind 19, so you've got to be positive knowing that she's still got lots, lots more in her and I think we should keep an eye on her.”
The British camp were left to rue an extra ends defeat to the United States as the point at which the momentum swung against them in the round robin tournament. After a strong start, which saw them beat world champions China and European champions Germany as well as losing narrowly to defending Olympic champions Sweden, they lost their last five matches.
While Muirhead has accepted responsibility for slack shots against the Americans and also Denmark, Lockhart has sympathy for her skip.
“Having been a skip myself I know what it's like,” she said. “There's times when your skip will save a team and there's times when your skip's not going to play well and you're going to have to take it.
“We've given it our best and sometimes you've got to ride with luck and sometimes you've got to ride with good play.
“I think the games that probably will help are the ones we should have won, the USA game.
“I don't know what happens in curling because we go out confident and positive every day and it's a strange thing. Curling's a mental sport and there could be one shot that doesn't work for you and then you battle with yourself and how you're feeling.
“It's a strange sport and there's so many elements to it. Sometimes it works for you. Sometimes it doesn't.”
Bode Miller's chance to make Olympic history by becoming the first man to win four alpine skiing medals at the same Games looked to have gone when he skied out of the first run of the giant-slalom.
Miller had already bagged three medals in Whistler after taking gold in the super combined competition as well as silver in the super-G and bronze in the blue riband downhill. But Miller slipped and slid off course midway through his run yesterday.
Miller will get a final chance to win his fourth medal when he competes in the slalom on Saturday.