David Murdoch pulled off a final-stone double take-out to earn Britain’s men a place in the curling semi-finals, while Elise Christie stormed into the quarter-finals of the short track 1,000m at the Sochi Winter Olympics
Murdoch’s high-pressure stone secured a last-end 6-5 tie-break win over Norway and a semi-final meeting with Sweden on Friday, when Britain’s women will also be in last-four action against Canada.
Christie put her troubles behind her with an impressive victory in her 1,000m heat, starting cautiously at the back of the field and then making her move to lead and skate away from her rivals.
It was just the confidence-booster the 23-year-old Scot needed after a traumatic start to her Games, which saw her disqualified from the 500m final, suffer threatening messages on social media and fail to finish her 1,500m heat.
Murdoch’s all-Scottish curling rink, one of the main British hopes for a medal in Sochi, had been beaten by the Norwegians in their round-robin fixture.
And Murdoch’s men played catch-up for most of the game, until his brilliant final stone in the 10th end secured two game-winning points.
Murdoch’s final throw, a tricky double take-out, came after a tension-building time-out, where Swedish coach Soren Gran came on to the ice to help the British rink decide whether to go for the shot or hand advantage back to the Norwegians at the extra end.
Murdoch described the win as “incredible’’ and admitted the delivery, “will certainly go up there as one of my best”.
Christie, meanwhile, will switch her focus to Friday night when she renews her bid for a medal in the 1,000m quarter-finals, stressed how the support she has had from people back home brought the smile back to her face when she was at her lowest ebb.
There was mixed fortune for Team GB in the men’s 500m heats, with Jon Eley going through to Friday’s quarter-finals while Jack Whelbourne missed out.
Rowan Cheshire has vowed to return to a future Winter Olympics stronger than ever after being ruled out of competing in Sochi due to a training crash. She was knocked out in an accident in training for her ski halfpipe discipline and spent the night in hospital with concussion.
In the men’s half-pipe, Sheffield’s James Machon had to battle with heavy snow and an equipment failure to place 23rd.
Machon scored a best of 52.20 from his second run, making a technical error on his first to earn 37.40, at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park but he insisted nothing would take the shine off his moment at the Games.
“I was out most of last season and it was looking virtually impossible to make the Olympics eight months ago,” he said.