Leswalt curler Vicky Wright and Team Muirhead battle for Beijing Olympics place
A powerful performance in the second half of their meeting with Estonia put Leswalt Curling Club's Vicky Wright and her Team Muirhead rink into the top three on the standings at the Olympic Qualification Event in the Netherlands.
The team, of which Wright is vice-skip, cruised to a 9-2 victory which gave them a record of four wins and two losses so far with two matches still to play.
Following their meeting with Latvia at 6pm (GMT) this evening, they have one remaining round-robin match tomorrow against Italy.
After beating the Czech Republic 7-5 in their opener, the Scots lost their next two games to Turkey (7-3) and Korea (8-4).
However they bounced back with wins over Japan (8-5) and Germany (7-4) before seeing off Estonia.
That result, combined with Latvia’s loss to Germany, left them needing a win over the Latvians on Wednesday evening to guarantee a place in the play-offs, while still retaining an outside chance of earning the top spot in the round-robin, should current leaders Japan slip up in either of their last two matches.
That that would bring direct qualification for the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February, avoiding the play-offs which will decide the two remaining slots available.
While there is no title to be won this week, Scotland skip Eve Muirhead has emphasised the need to treat the event like a major championship and she believes the team have gone about that well after their shaky start.
“I would definitely like to think we’re building form with every single game and that’s what you want to do at Championships,” she said.
“As much as the format is slightly different here in terms of the play-off stages and how there is no final, we still like to build towards those final games and right now we’re definitely trending in the right direction.”
It was a tight encounter early on with the Estonians who had also gone into the match with a realistic chance of making the play-offs.
Three of the first four ends were blanked, but significantly the only score was a steal of two for the Scots.
After they then forced their opponents to take a single at the fifth to lead 2-1 at the midway break, they then ratcheted things up in the next four ends, scoring seven shots to just another single for Estonia to end the match after nine ends and Muirhead was again full of praise for the tactical input provided by her teammates, as well as the quality of their play.
“We played well. The steal of two at the second end put us on the front foot and we really controlled the game from there on in,” she said.
“Everyone’s playing solid and if we do have a half shot then the next player backs it up and that’s crucial out here.
“I think we still have half shots, but we’re getting better. The ice is still tricky, but as a team we’re bringing all four of our heads together and we’re managing to figure it out.
“If anything, we just need to jump on the ice conditions quicker, but we are definitely doing that a lot better than we did at the start of the week.”