By Steve Keating
GANGNEUNG, South Korea (Reuters) – Britain were forced into a tie-breaker with Switzerland in a bid to secure a semi-final spot in the Olympic men’s curling competition after being crushed 10-4 by the United States in eight ends on Wednesday.
The rout gave the American foursome third spot in the final rankings behind Sweden (7-2) and Canada (6-3) while the U.S., Britain and Switzerland all wrapped up preliminary round play on 5-4.
The United States secured third place with a better head-to-head record leaving Kyle Smith’s British foursome to battle Peter De Cruz’s Swiss rink on Thursday for the last of the coveted playoff spots.
The British foursome had looked prepared to battle leading 3-2 after four ends but then let the contest get away giving up three in the fifth and allowing the U.S. to steal four in the eighth with Smith waving the white flag.
“Just disappointing, to be honest,” said Smith. “We weren’t our sharpest today, didn’t create enough chances when we had the last stone.
“We’ve still got a chance of making the Olympic semi-finals, so it’s exactly the same situation as today. Win and we’re in.
“I don’t really see it as pressure, to be honest, these chances are what we all play for, so we’ll be ready.
“It’s a great chance to showcase our sport and show how we can play in those situations. We’ll be coming for the Swiss.”
Japan (4-5) missed their chance to get into the tie-break mix when they were humbled 10-4 by South Korea while Canada closed out with an 8-3 win over last place Denmark (2-7).
One semi-final is set with North American neighbors Canada and the United States facing off for a spot in the gold medal match while Sweden will take on the winner of Switzerland and Britain.
“This is what you dream about as a teenager when you are out practising and throwing rocks,” U.S. vice-skip Tyler George said. “If you want to play anybody at the Olympics with medals on the line – it’s Canada.
“To actually get to a game like that – man! It’s amazing!
“But we’ve played these guys plenty of times. This is not a situation that we’re going to be uncomfortable in.
“They are going to come at us with everything they’ve got – but man – it’s going to be fun.”
(Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)