Heat is on in the Ice Cube as GB curlers secure toughest victory yet
on 13-03-2014 10:54
After a difficult few days in the Ice Cube Curling Centre, the GB wheelchair curlers demonstrated ice-cool focus to come back from a four point deficit to win their opening match this morning (Wednesday March 12) 8-7.
In anticipation of a close game, the ParalympicsGB Wheelchair Curling team decided to shake up their line-up before their morning match against the USA got underway. Alternate Angie Malone took up the role of lead, while Gregor Ewan played second, Jim Gault played third and skip Aileen Neilson retained her position.
USA took an immediate lead in end 1, making use of the hammer to score two points, and then played a clever second end to force GB to concede a third point against the hammer, to leave the scoreboard reading 3-0 to the USA.
In a tight third end, GB secured their first point of the match with an intelligent last stone which removed the American stone from the house and meant Neilson’s team took one point. The fourth end went to the USA by two points to take the score to 5-1.
In the fifth end GB missed the opportunity to pull back two but still secured one to reduce the gap to 5-2.
A tactical sixth end saw the USA score a single point to take their lead out to 6-2.
But in a fantastic seventh end, the GB team played outstandingly well to finish with five stones in the house and move into the lead for the first time in the match with a score of 7-6.
In a nail-biting eighth end, GB found themselves in a strong position with a stone right in the heart of the target guarded by several USA and GB stones. But the USA placed a carefully-positioned hammer into the house to knock out GB’s stone and take the match to a deciding ninth end.
"With the training that I’ve gone through over the past three years I’m prepared, I’m ready." Angie Malone
In the most tense end of a very nail-biting match, each stone was watched with eager anticipation by British supporters. GB got a stone in the house early on and then defended strongly against some highly tactical play by their opponents. GB had the crucial hammer, though, and when the final US stone missed, the American team conceded the match to leave GB victorious.
Of her first full game on the ice, Malone said: “When we go out there, we’re very very focussed, we were feeling confident going out there. I’m always prepared and ready. With the training that I’ve gone through over the past three years I’m prepared, I’m ready, I’ve been training every night here at the Ice Cube and I’m ready to go back on the ice now.”
"I’m just delighted to come out with a win.” Aileen Neilson
Gault said: “When cases come out like that you’ve got to act professional and do your thing. They had an excellent start, but we were always confident we were going to give them a good game, even at 6-2 down we said we’re going to have to switch this and switch play. We’re a great team, the team dynamics are second to none and it’s unbelievable, it just shows the fighting spirit we’ve got. We may be down but we’re never beaten.”
Neilson added: “The team were such a fantastic support because I didn’t play my best in that game, but the other guys made the shots that they had to make and I’m just delighted to come out with a win.”
This morning’s results mean that GB need to win or see Slovakia lose to Russia this afternoon to guarantee a semi-final place.
At 15:00 local time, the men’s Slalom will see James Whitley and Ben Sneesby make their Paralympic debuts and Mick Brennan back in action on the slopes.