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Semi final defeat for mixed pair

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By James Toney in Beijing
Semi final defeat for mixed pair

THE two decade wait for British Olympic curling gold goes on - for just a few days longer.

Bruce Mouat and Eve Muirhead’s rinks begin their campaigns on Thursday as they seek to follow in the footsteps of Rhona Martin, 20 years on from her ‘Stone of Destiny’ in Salt Lake.

But there was no destiny in Beijing earlier today, only despair.

Mouat and Jennifer Dodds suffered an agonising final stone defeat in the semi-finals of the mixed doubles, in a repeat of the world final they won on home ice last year.

Norway’s husband and wife combination Magnus Nedregotten and Kristin Skaslien scored a second win in 24 hours against the British pair to book their final place, as they seek to upgrade their Olympic bronze from four years ago in PyeongChang.

They will face the unbeaten Italians while Mouat and Dodds will need to rally for a bronze medal match with Sweden’s Oskar Eriksson and Almida De Val, who they narrowly beat in the round robin matches last Wednesday.

“We came in as world champions and, of course, we wanted gold but we knew the quality of these teams and how hard it was going to be,” said Mouat, who is from Stranraer.

“This will be tough to take, it always is when you get that close but there is still a medal to play for and we’re hungry for it. We’re just going to have to rebound and come out fighting.

“I felt very good going into the game, we came out with confidence and drive. For the first five ends we really controlled it, which is perhaps the toughest part of the loss.

“I’m just disappointed more at my last three ends because Jen played amazing. I’m gutted more about what I have done for the team than myself.”

You don’t have to know the intricacies of this inherently simple but bafflingly complex addictive game to know where the British pair went wrong, Norway claiming three shots in the sixth end to open up an ultimately decisive advantage.

The scores were deadlocked 5-5 into the eighth and final end but Norway had the hammer – the advantage of the final stone – and got their tactics spot on to leave Mouat and Dodds searching for answers. In the end Skaslien held her nerve with a perfect draw for the winning shot.

“We’re a bit disappointed with how we handled that situation,” admitted Mouat.

“When you don’t have the hammer in a close final end, it’s quite a scary position to be in.”

Dodds, who is part of Muirhead’s European Championship winning rink in the women’s event here in Beijing, knows the Swedes well after their bronze medal run at the last worlds in Aberdeen.

“They are great shot makers, they never give up and after the half-time break they came out fighting and that shows the strength they have,” she said.

“Obviously we’re disappointed to not be in the final but there’s still a bronze medal to play for. I think if we play like we did for the majority of that game it will be a really good fight against Sweden.

“This will hurt but that’s curling for you. You miss shots, you make shots, but I have to try and push it aside and come out fighting.”

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