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Olympics-Curling-Britain and China claim victories as Beijing action gets under way

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By Reuters
Olympics-Curling-Sweden and Britain get Beijing action under way
Olympics-Curling-Sweden and Britain get Beijing action under way   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2022

By Hritika Sharma

BEIJING -Britain’s Jennifer Dodds and Bruce Mouat prevailed over Swedish duo Almida de Val and Oskar Eriksson as the mixed doubles curling competition kicked off the 2022 Winter Olympics at the National Aquatics Centre on Wednesday.

Teams walked out to the rink with “Scotland The Brave” blasting on the bagpipes before world champions Britain began their round robin campaign with a tense 9-5 win despite not being at their best.

“We expect them to make shots but we were a bit fortunate that went our way. We will learn from that,” said Mouat, referring to De Val’s miss in the penultimate end. “We just need to build on that momentum now.”

Hosts China were cheered on by a sparse but lively home crowd en route to a dramatic 7-6 victory over Jenny Perret and Martin Rios of Switzerland as Fan Suyuan judged her hammer brilliantly to spin out the Swiss stone in the extra end.

Vicky Persinger and Chris Plys led the United States to a narrow 6-5 win over Tahli Gill and Dean Hewett after stealing the final two ends to spoil Australia’s Olympic curling debut.

“It was such a battle out there,” said Hewitt. “We took it down to the last rock as we wanted to do. It just didn’t pay off.”

Czech newcomers Zuzana Paulova and Tomas Paul edged out Norwegian pair Kristin Skaslien and Magnus Nedregotten, the world silver medallists, in the other opening round surprise 7-6 as the mixed doubles event made its second appearance at the Games.

With the clanking of granite stones and shouting from the curlers more pronounced than usual in the near-empty arena, the ‘roaring game’ truly lived up to its nickname in front of the few hundred spectators in attendance at the stadium.

Rebranded as the “Ice Cube”, the distinctive venue was where American swimmer Michael Phelps won eight gold medals at the 2008 Summer Olympics when it was known as the “Water Cube” and it has since been renovated to include a curling rink.

“I remember watching the swimming at this venue in 2008 so it means a lot to be finally here and hope we can keep things going,” Mouat added. “It was an honour to be the first Team GB athletes to compete.”

Canada will take on Britain in their opening preliminary round match on Thursday while Italy are also in action against the United States before the Beijing Games formally open on Friday and run through to Feb. 20.