Curling teams make winning starts

'There are definitely a lot of things we can improve upon'

Great Britain's men's and women's curling teams both got off to winning starts today in the Winter Olympics in Pinerolo.

David Murdoch's team were always in control against the rank outsiders Italy, who only qualified by virtue of hosting the Games, and eventually won 7-5, while Rhona Martin's women kickstarted their defence of the gold medal with a hard-fought 3-2 win over Denmark.

In a close and tactical encounter the British women forced the crucial breakthrough in the eighth end when they forced their opponents to concede the hammer. Martin's team went through lengthy deliberations during the crucial final end before Danish skip Dorthe Holm made a mistake handing Great Britain victory.

Earlier, Murdoch tactically sacrificed the eighth and ninth ends in order to retain the all-important 'hammer' - the last stone - for the 10th and final end. But Murdoch's 'stone of destiny' was never required as a mistake by Italian skip Joel Retornaz wrapped up a satisfactory start for the British team. Murdoch's men were due to return to ice again this evening to face New Zealand.

Murdoch expressed his relief at making a winning start but said there was plenty of room for improvement within his four-man team.

"There are definitely a lot of things we can improve upon, and we had a few slack shots out there," he admitted.

"It is important to get a good start whenever you go to a championship, because it makes a big difference.

"The boys were up for it and a little nervous - which helps there game. Our game-plan worked, and we really had the game by the scruff of its neck."

Staff and agencies

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