Kyle Smith did what Britain's men's and women's curling teams hope to do next year by winning gold in Sochi and the newly crowned world junior champion admitted it atoned for suffering heartache 12 months ago.
Kyle Smith did what Britain’s men’s and women’s curling teams hope to do next year by winning gold in Sochi – and the newly crowned world junior champion admitted it atoned for suffering heartache 12 months ago.
Smith skippered the Scottish men’s rink of himself, Thomas Muirhead, Kyle Waddell and Cameron Smith at the World Junior Championships, which acted as the test event for next year’s Olympic in the Russian host city.
They advanced to the semi-finals at the top of the round robin standings with eight wins and just one loss before beating Matt Dunstone’s Canadian rink 8-6 in the page one-two play-off to reach the final.
Smith’s rink faced the challenge of the host nation Russia in the final in Sochi, skip Evgeny Arkhipov inflicting the sole defeat on Scotland in the round robin with the nation’s men’s team making their first ever appearance at such a stage.
However Scotland were not to be denied and ran out 6-2 victors with skip Smith admitting winning gold made up for having to settle for bronze at last year’s World junior Championships in Oestersund in Sweden.
“I’m speechless. I don’t know what to say. I just feel fantastic. We’ve just had a really good week and a good year,” said Smith. “I was a little bit nervous, but that’s only natural.
“We just played everything we could; we just didn’t give them much of a chance. They played well but we got our two for the lead and that just settled the nerves a bit, and we just made a lot of shots from there. We’ve got the colour of the medal right this year.”
Smith became the ninth male Scottish skip to be crowned world junior champion and first since James Dryburgh took gold in 1996 a year after current senior skip Tom Brewster did so himself.
The win also ensured Scotland left the World Junior Championships with gold for the third year running following Hannah Fleming’s win in 2012 and current women’s senior skip Eve Muirhead’s victory in 2011.
Fleming was back this year in a bid to attempt to defend her title however she fell just short as the women’s final in Sochi went the opposite way to the men’s.
Skip Alina Kovaleva helped Russia come from behind to win 6-5 after an extra end and Fleming, whose rink, like Smith’s, topped the round robin standings with eight wins and one loss, conceded that the best team on the day had won.
“We just weren’t firing as well in the final as we have been. But you’ve got to hand it to Russia because they played well,” said Smith, who was joined by Lauren Gray, Jennifer Dodds, Abi Brown and alternate Vicky Wright.
“But I’m really disappointed because we just didn’t show up in the final. The force of one in the fourth wasn’t great and when they stole a two that gave them a great advantage.”
© Sportsbeat 2013