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Curling's cool as Murdoch looks to turn silver into gold

February 21, 2014 07:12 am

It was meant to be the Games when extreme sports grabbed the younger generation and made everyone want to be a snowboarder, a ‘lifestyle sport’ in which, whether you’re bummed or stoked, everybody is your friend.

But these Olympics will also be remembered for when curling became cool. The roaring game is a boring game? Not here in Sochi, where some skips are pumped up like they’re about to play ice hockey.

David Murdoch takes on Canada's Brad Jacobs for gold today determined to seize his chance and upgrade his rinks' guaranteed silver and write a bit of Olympic history - a win, 12 years to the day since Rhona Howie won curling gold in Salt Lake, would make these Team GB's most successful ever Winter Olympics.

“We will only ever get one chance to get an Olympic gold and we want to make sure we do everything we can to do it,” said Murdoch yesterday, admitting he had barely slept a wink since the semi-final win.

“It’s not a given, we have to fight hard, focus and be precise. We are capable, there’s no doubt about it.

“We have beaten most of the top teams here. We know we had a shot to beat them the last time so now it’s just a case of believing. We’ll go out and just give it everything.”

Murdoch credits coach Soren Gran, a Swede, with turning around his curling career after the last Olympics in Vancouver. The skip moved to Stirling, started training full time and “got his head straight”.

Gran also stopped the team from spending too much time in the gym; he wanted them on the ice, sharpening their curling skills.

“Soren came on board and made me believe my best years were ahead of me,” adds Murdoch.

“I was in a pretty bad place after Vancouver; I thought that was me done in the sport.

“He made me realise that I’m young in curling terms, he made me work on my technique and practise harder than I’ve ever done before.

“I was throwing 100 rocks a day just to get better, though sometimes you wonder why you’re doing it at six o’clock in the morning.”

Gran is an impressive character, who manages to combine being hard with being liked, and he is not afraid to make tough decisions, bringing in Murdoch to join Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews, Michael Goodfellow and their established skip Tom Brewster last year.

Brewster had won two world silver medals with his team but Gran thought something was missing – and Murdoch was the edge they needed to be competitive in Sochi.

“All the guys realised to take a gold medal we needed another player and the best player outside those four guys was David Murdoch, who didn’t have a strong team of his own. I thought it was a waste of time to have him outside these guys,” Gran said.

“In 2011 David was not in a good place and didn’t know what to do with his life. The last Olympics was tough on him but I said he had two choices – to give it all or give it nothing. He couldn’t do something halfway; that would have destroyed him.

“I just encouraged David to sort out his thoughts, it was his choice to commit to what we were doing.

“You want to win Olympic gold, you need to make tough calls.”

Making tough calls . . . expect to see a few of those in today’s final. 

© Sportsbeat 2014