SOCHI, Russia (AP) Wearing broad grins, Britain’s curlers slid down the ice in unison and waved to family members applauding them from the top row.
Another day in the women’s Olympic curling tournament, another record for the British.
Three days after scoring seven points in one end against the United States, the world champions stole five points in another – a women’s Olympic record – in a 12-3 win over Japan at the Ice Cube Curling Center on Friday.
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It was the first time this tournament that Britain has secured back-to-back victories, moving the team to 3-2 and within sight of its big rivals. Canada (5-0) and Sweden (4-1) weren’t in action Friday.
”Unfortunately you don’t get any prizes (for breaking records),” British curler Anna Sloan said. ”But it is always good and it shows that we are performing well and going in the right direction towards the end of the round-robin.”
One team going in the wrong direction is the United States.
Erika Brown’s rink is all but mathematically out after a 9-2 loss to a Denmark team that started the day at the bottom of the standings, with no wins. The result left the Americans 1-5, tied with the Danes.
No team – men’s or women’s – in the three previous Olympic tournaments featuring a 10-rink lineup has qualified for the playoffs after five losses.
”We’re not going to start crying yet,” said the 41-year-old Brown, who is competing in her third and likely final Olympics. ”We’re going to think about all the things we did to get here.”
It has been a chastening campaign for the United States, which arrived in Sochi with high hopes and a team that contained four curlers with experience of playing at an Olympics. One of those players, Debbie McCormick of Rio, Wis., was skip of the U.S. team that finished last in the Vancouver Games in 2010.
The seven points the U.S. team conceded in one end to Britain on Tuesday was an Olympic record in both men’s and women’s play.
In other games, China (3-2) needed only eight of the allotted 10 ends to beat South Korea 11-3 and Russia beat Switzerland 6-3. The Swiss were top of the standings on Tuesday, but have lost three straight.
Britain lost tight games to Sweden and Canada in its opening three rinks but is building momentum nicely.
It was in the seventh game where the British broke the women’s steal record, with Japan skip Ayuma Ogasawara coming up short with a draw on the final shot to give her opponent five points.
That has only happened once in men’s Olympic play – Canada achieved the feat against the United States in Nagano, Japan, in 1998.