Smith holds nerve as GB men get curling campaign off to winning start

Smith holds nerve as GB men get curling campaign off to winning start
By Sportsbeat

14/02/2018 at 07:40

Team GB skip Kyle Smith believes his rink have shown they can handle the pressure as they defeated Switzerland in their opening clash in PyeongChang.

A tense opening match at the Gangneung Curling Centre headed into an extra end, where Team GB had the advantage of the hammer.

And Smith made the most of it, angling in his shot to draw a single and secure a 6-5 victory.

That was a repeat scoreline of last year's European Championships where his rink, then playing in Scottish colours, beat the Swiss before going on to take silver.

And with all of his rink making their Olympic debuts on Wednesday, Smith was delighted to start kick matters off with a win ahead of their clash with world champions Canada at 20:05 (11:05am UK time).

"It doesn't get much better than that. I'm really pleased, we played well and we ground out the win. You can't get off to a better start than that," he said.

"It was a game where both teams were trying to get a feel for the ice and the conditions. There were maybe a couple more mistakes than there would be normally from both of our teams.

"But we held it together. It was always going to be close game against them, they are a very good team and it went to the wire. We're really pleased it came out on our side.

"You like those games which are close and down to the wire. They made a lot of good shots, I enjoy playing against them."

"If we keep winning the extra ends then it's not a problem if there are lots of extra ends."

After blanks in the first two ends it was Team GB who got the first score on the board in the third before Switzerland replied in the next.

Mistakes were creeping in from both sides but a score of two in the ninth put Team GB ahead at 5-4.

Switzerland, with the hammer, had the chance to win it in the tenth but skip Peter de Cruz was light with his final stone, meaning he could only score one for the extra end.

Men's coach Viktor Kjell added: "I thought it was pretty good. We started quite well. And then lost it a little bit in the middle where there were a couple of unforced errors from our side which gave them a bit of momentum which we had already created in the start.

"But in the eighth, ninth and tenth end I thought we played good.

"Regardless of any big tournament, you play the first game and you might be a little bit unsure what the ice is going to do and what the atmosphere in the arena is going to be like.

"I thought they handled it quite well, there is still room for improvement from all four of them."

Sportsbeat 2018