Muirhead holds nerve to claim world curling title

24 March 2013 / 16:47

Eve Muirhead brilliantly held her nerve to clinch a thrilling final stone gold medal victory at the women's curling World Championship in Riga.

Muirhead's rink, which included Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams and Claire Hamilton, are the first Scottish women's world champions since Jackie Lockhart won the title in 2002, just a few weeks after Rhona Martin's famous Olympic success in Salt Lake City.

And they certainly earned their victory the hard way.

Swedish skip Margaretha Sigfridsson had defeated them in both the round-robin stage and the page one versus two play-off and Muirhead only booked her final place after a final stone win over Canada in the semi.

Sweden took an early lead in the second end but Muirhead steadily picked up points and entered the decisive tenth end level at 5-5 - and with the key advantage of the final stone.

Muirhead - watched by coach Martin, whose famous Olympic final was decided in similar circumstances - got her tactics spot on and collapsed to the ice, arms and broom raised aloft, after delivering the decisive final stone for a 6-5 win.

Three-time world junior champion Muirhead won world silver three years ago and her younger brother, Thomas, was part of the Scottish rink that claimed men's junior world gold in Sochi earlier this month.

"The girls played great and to come out on top is unbelievable, it's still not sunk in," said Muirhead, who follows the lead of father Gordon, a world champion in 1999.

"To top the season off by becoming world champions is great. We knew it was going to be a close game and we were ready for the last stone.

"To come out on the top is an unbelievable feeling, especially for myself, getting that silver medal in 2010 and silver at the Europeans this year.

"It's a good boost for us to go into the Olympics as world champions. The Olympics are going to be fantastic but the main thing is all our hard work has paid off, and it's a massive relief."

Meanwhile, Canadian skip Rachel Homan won bronze, defeating USA opposite number Erika Brown 8-6 in a tense encounter.

"I'm really proud of my team for going out there and re-grouping after coming so close against Eve and Scotland, going out there and playing real strong," said Homan. 

"It sucks to lose, but for us to come back and win like we did, I'm really proud of that.

"It's our first time at the worlds, it's been amazing and we've learned a lot and gained a lot of experience. It's all good for our Olympic trials coming up - we're just going to take the experiences from this week."

Great Britain now boosts two world champions in Winter Olympic sport, with Muirhead's success and Shelley Rudman's victory at the skeleton World Championships earlier this year.

In addition, James Woods won silver at the freestyle skiing World Championships and Elise Christie was a bronze medallist at the short track speed skating World Championships.

Next weekend sees the start of the week long men's curling World Championship in Canada where Tom Brewster's rink, which will be skipped by two-time Olympian David Murdoch and includes Scott Andrews and Michael Goodfellow, will look to improve on the silvers they won in 2012 and 2011.

Scotland's victory books Great Britain a quota place at next year's Winter Olympics in Sochi, where they'll be joined by hosts Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, Canada, USA, Denmark and Korea. 

The two remaining slots in the ten-team tournament will be decided at an Olympic qualifier scheduled for later this year, with 2010 and 2009 world champions Germany and China still looking for their Sochi place.

© Sportsbeat 2013