Team GB’s curlers found their form on day four of the Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck as they secured two convincing wins over Russia and Austria to finish the competition with three wins and four defeats.
In the early morning game Team GB beat Russia 6-3, with the Russians conceding defeat after seven ends. In the afternoon the Briton’s really upper their game to thrash host nation Austria 9-1. Team GB raced into a 9-0 lead after 5 ends and Austria conceded defeat following the sixth end.
Unfortunately for Team GB curlers Duncan Menzies (Arbroath), Angharad Ward (Tonbridge), Thomas Muirhead (Perthshire) and Rachel Hannen (Hamilton), other results did not go in their favour so they will exit the mixed team competition with their heads held high, but with a feeling of what might have been.
Thomas Muirhead said: “As a team we played superbly well in our last games, we barely missed a shot. Of course it’s a bit frustrating that we couldn’t find that form at the start of the tournament but this is something that we will have to learn from. We know now that you have to be on your game from the moment the tournament starts or you will get punished because these are some of the best players in the world. But the experience has been a great one, not just in terms of curling but also in competing at a Youth Olympics and everything that comes with that.”
Skip Duncan Menzies added: “It took us a while to get to grips with the ice over here in Austria but I could still easily be standing here with only one loss to our name. Every game except one either went to an extra end or was decided by one shot so if things had gone our way we would have gone through. But the team played fantastically well at the end, we made pretty much all of our shots and left me with very little to do so at least we go out on a high.”
Cross country skiers Sarah Hale (lives in Dalarna, Sweden) and Scott Dixon (Aviemore, Scotland) made their Youth Olympic Games debuts for Team GB in the 5km Classic and 10km Classic medal races respectively at Seefeld Arena.
Hale, who finished 32nd in a time of 17 minutes 44 seconds said: “I’m really tired now but it was a lot of fun, the first lap I felt really good but by the second I really had to fight my way up the last hill. I got really tired so I probably pushed a little too hard on the first lap and that cost me a bit but even so I'm pleased with how it went out there. The conditions were fantastic, wonderful tracks and good weather, I had a lot of fun. I didn’t really have any targets coming in about where I wanted to finish, I just wanted to push as hard as I could all the way up to the finish line. I would have liked to have gone a little bit faster in the second lap but you learn from these things and I'm already looking forward to the second race on Thursday.”
Dixon, who placed 37th in a time of 35 minutes 2 seconds, said: I'm feeling extremely tired but I'm really happy with how it went. I couldn’t have gone any harder at any point in that race, I gave it everything. It was certainly tough but the conditions were fantastic and a lot of credit to my coach Roger (Homyer) who prepared my skis fantastically well. This was a great first experience for me and with the sprints still to come on Thursday I’m already looking forward to it. That’s more a skate race and I've done a lot of that before, it’s more similar to biathlon – my preferred event - so hopefully I can continue to improve. I never had massive expectations for this one but in the sprint I'm really looking forward to pushing myself against the best in the world and seeing how I compare.”
Team GB ice dancers Millie Paterson (Rotherham) and Edward Carstairs (Nottingham) completed their free programme in front of a big crowd at the Olympiaworld Stadium. The pair put in an impressive performance to score 40.35, giving them an overall score of 71.05 and eleventh position.
The pair dealt very professionally with a technical hitch that saw their music cut out for a few seconds mid-routine.
Reflecting on the performance, Millie Paterson said: “I’m really pleased with it overall. We could have done our rotational lift a bit better as I didn’t grab my leg straight away but overall it was good. The music fault was difficult but you’ve just got to get on with it, you can’t stop and make a big deal of it. I was a bit worried that it wasn’t going to come back on and I was upside down in a lift at the time! We scored 71 points overall which is really good, we’re very pleased with that. The Youth Olympics have been really good fun and i’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I’m going to try and get to as many other sports as I can now to support the other Team GB athletes.”
Edward Carstairs added: “I think it went well overall. It could have been better in a few places on the technical side but overall we’re pleased. We train enough without the music so you tend to know how to carry on. It puts you off a little bit but you’ve just got to put it out of your mind and concentrate. These things happen at competitions, you’ve just got to get on with it. It has been a great experience to compete against all the best skaters and better ourselves by learning from them. It was fantastic to have all the other Team GB athletes behind us, the support really does add to the motivation. I’m looking forward to watching our guys in the short track speed skating tomorrow.”