As Olympic commentator Mike Harris put it, an eight-ender in curling is about as rare as a hole in one (I'd say even more rare).
A seven-ender is only slightly more likely. In other words, it is extremely rare that a curling team - at any level, never mind the Olympics - manages to score 7 points in an end. The most you can score in an end is eight.
In fact, in Olympic curling, a seven has never been scored (although Canada's Brad Gushue had a chance in 2006).
That's what Great Britain, skipped by Eve Muirhead, did to the United States, skipped by Erika Brown, on the way to a 12 - 3 win.
Those seven points broke open a tight 2-1 game, sending Muirhead's squad into an insurmountable 9-1 lead, after the seven counters were factored in when the fourth end was finished. Muirhead had only to make a routine hit with her final stone to collect the seventh point. Lying six with your final shot to come? A dream come true for any skip. (Even more of a dream than lying seven with your last shot to come. With eight-enders being so, so rare, that situation would add a hole heap of pressure to a skip's shoulders)
How is it possible to score that many at this level?
Simply put, it happened because both teams decided to play it aggressively in the fourth end, with lots of stones in play. While Brown could have decided earlier in the end that there were just too many Great Britain stones in the house and that she needed to clean things out, she opted against it, mainly because the U.S. did have opportunities to negate all those stones with a nifty draw or two.
Indeed, when you get as far into a bad situation like that in curling, you can't go pulling off quadruple or quintuple take outs in order to bail out of that bad situation. Drawing in and hiding somewhere is your best bet and Brown had a chance to hold Muirhead to just one point had she made her final shot.
Facing six, Brown tried to draw around a clutch of her own guards and Muirhead stones. Had the shot settled in where she'd intended, Great Britain would have had a tough time scoring more than one. However, Brown's rock clicked a guard and rolled wide into the rings, giving Muirhead an easy take out for seven.
Brown made the right call there, but that slight rub of a guard meant she gave up the disastrous seven-ender.
First time in Olympic curling that a team has given up seven in an end, although it nearly happened eight years ago.
You may recall that Brad Gushue, skipping the Canadian team at the 2006 Olympics, had a chance to score a seven-ender against Finland in the gold medal game, but ended up with six, when his draw for the seventh point sailed though the house in the sixth end.
Gushue said at the time that the adrenaline rush he got from the possibility of scoring seven made him throw the stone much too heavily.
Gushue's six points, on the way to a gold medal, had matched the single end record for points in Olympic curling. Previously, Sweden's Peja Lindholm had scored six in a game at the 2002 Olympics.
Now, Eve Muirhead and her teammates, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams and Claire Hamilton have the record to themselves.
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- Eve Muirhead
- Brad Gushue
- Erika Brown