Curling

The Associated Press - Monday Feb. 17, 2014 03:43 ET

Britain tops Russia, assured of tie-breaker in women's curling

Eve Muirhead closer to playoffs

Eve Muirhead of Great Britain in women's curling action
Eve Muirhead of Great Britain can guarantee joining Canada and Sweden in the playoffs with a win against Denmark at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. (Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Britain's women kept their chances of reaching the Olympic curling semifinals alive by beating Russia 9-6 on Monday, eliminating the host nation from the tournament.

Eve Muirhead's world champion team has a 5-3 win-loss record and can join Canada and Sweden in the playoffs with a win over Denmark in their last round-robin game later Monday.

Muirhead's team failed to reach the Olympic semifinals in 2010, despite being one of the favourites.

Japan defeated China 8-5, leaving both teams tied with Switzerland at 4-4. China plays Switzerland in the standout game on Monday evening, with the loser eliminated and the winner securing at least a tie-breaker game. Japan plays Sweden.

The United States (1-8) finished in last place for the second consecutive Olympic Games after losing 11-2 to South Korea in seven ends.

"This team is a better team than our performances this week," said U.S. curler Ann Swisshelm, who had tears in her eyes as she left the ice. "That's pretty heart-breaking."

Russia is out of contention for the semifinals, a disappointment for the tournament as a whole as the atmosphere and noise in the crowd has lifted this week every time the host nation's team played. Russia is also out of the men's competition.

After conceding four points in the eighth end, the Russian women scored three points in the 9th to bring the score back to 7-6 but Britain had the hammer in the last end.

Muirhead kept her nerve to make a simple takeout with her final shot for two game-clinching points.

"Sitting in the hack during my last shot, I actually couldn't hear myself think," Muirhead said. "I was just hoping there wasn't a really important line call where the sweepers would have to hear me scream, because there's absolutely no way they would have heard me."

Canada (8-0) is guaranteed to be seeded No. 1 in the semifinals and could become the first team in women's Olympic curling to go through the round-robin stage undefeated if it beats South Korea in the evening session.

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