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Late drama secures men's curling team a semi-final spot

ESPN staff
February 18, 2014 « Fulham announce coaching departures | Chartbeat test »
Murdoch celebrates his courageous final stone © Getty Images
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A stunning final shot from skip David Murdoch secured Great Britain's men's curling team a 6-5 win over Norway and with it a place in the semi-finals at the Winter Olympics.

In a tense affair at the Ice Cube in Sochi, Murdoch's team trailed 5-4 with one final stone. But the Scot used it to great effect to take out two Norwegian stones and secure a dramatic finish to the final end.

Great Britain will now face Sweden at 2pm GMT on Wednesday for a place in the gold medal match. Defeat will see them compete for the bronze medal against the other losing semi-finalists.

Murdoch, who has finished fourth and fifth in the previous two Winter Olympics, said: "It is a tremendous feeling to make the semi-finals. We are not scared of going for the big shots."

Sweden beat Great Britain 8-4 in the first match of the Games and have only lost one match so far. But Murdoch is confident ahead of the semi-finals and said his team were "coming onto their game".

The women's team, led by Eve Muirhead, secured their semi-final spot on Monday and face Canada at 10am GMT.

In the speed skating, Elise Christie progressed comfortably to Friday's quarter-finals in her preferred 1,000m - an event in which she won bronze at last year's World Championships and retained her European title last month.

Christie cruised behind the pack until the fourth lap before producing a superb display of acceleration to pull well clear of her three rivals and finish in 1:30.59 - a full two-and-a-half seconds ahead.

The 23-year-old from Livingston, Scotland, has endured a torrid time in Sochi so far, having been denied silver in a chaotic final in the 500m, before being disqualified from the 1,500m heats for drifting outside the finish line.

"I didn't know if I could face getting on the ice again - but I've heard that everyone back at home has been supporting me so I'm really thankful to everyone for that," Christie said.

Christie deleted her Twitter account last week after receiving a torrent of abuse on the social networking site. She added: "It's so nice to do well after all the horrible messages I received and I just hope I can do everyone proud. I can't get across how thankful I am."

"I was happy with my performance today. I got my tactics spot on - and made sure I crossed the line properly!"

In the men's 1,500m, Christie's Team GB team-mate and boyfriend Jack Whelbourne finished fourth after failing to recover from a sluggish start and will take no further part in the competition.

But there was better news in the men's 500m, as Jon Eley finished second to progress to Friday's quarter-finals.

Britain's Murray Buchan and James Machon missed out on the first Olympic men's ski halfpipe final after failing to qualify for the 12-man field. Buchan was down in 17th place, with Machon in 23rd.

Elise Christie left her rivals trailing in the 1,000m speed skate heats © AP
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