By Mitch Phillips

 

GANGNEUNG, South Korea (Reuters) - World and defending Olympic champions Canada, the most dominant force in women's curling, were knocked out at the preliminary stage after losing to Britain on Wednesday in one of the biggest shocks of the Pyeongchang Games.

 

Canada had medaled at every event since curling was introduced to the Olympics in 1998, twice taking gold, but after a tense 6-5 defeat to Britain where they made a series of mistakes, they have a record of three wins and five defeats with one match remaining and cannot progress to the semi-finals.

 

The result is a huge blow to Canada but was always a possibility after they started their campaign with three straight defeats and though they recovered well, a defeat to China on Tuesday piled on the pressure.

 

Britain, gold medalists in 2002 and who won bronze in 2014, played a superb and patient all-round game to take their tally to 6-3 and secure a last-four berth where they will face double gold medalists and Sochi runners-up Sweden after they beat China 8-4.

 

Already-qualified Korea underlined their credentials after thrashing the Olympic Athletes from Russia team 11-2 and will face either Japan or the United States following the final set of round-robin preliminaries later on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Mitch Phillips; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)