By Steve Keating
SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Switzerland and Britain claimed the last two semi-final berths in the Olympic women's curling competition in contrasting fashion on Monday while Canada rolled through the round-robin phase unbeaten.
With Canada and Sweden having already booked places in the final four, Britain (5-3), China (4-4), Japan (4-4) and Switzerland (4-4) stepped on to the sheets at the Ice Cube Curling Centre ready for a battle royale for the two remaining berths.
While Switzerland romped to a convincing win over China, Britain took the backdoor into the last four after dropping their final game to Denmark.
China's chances of advancing quickly disappeared when the Swiss stole three in the second end to jump into a 4-0 lead then cruised to a 10-6 victory over the Vancouver Winter Games bronze medalists.
"We don't have a medal yet, we still have to fight," cautioned Swiss skip Mirjam Ott, who will lead her team against Sweden for a spot in the final. "It's just great to know we can still go on (in the tournament).
"It was very good, my team played awesome. We had to play very strong against China. They're a good team."
Eve Muirhead's British foursome had also looked headed towards an easy win, leading 7-4 going into the final end, when disaster struck with Denmark taking three in the 10th.
The Danes then completed their remarkable comeback by stealing one in the 11th for an unlikely 8-7 win.
While the collapse did not cost the British foursome a spot in the semi-finals it did set up an unwelcome showdown against Canada for a spot in the gold medal match.
"We came out here with a couple of goals, number one was to make the top four," said Muirhead, playing in her second Olympics. "We didn't finish the way we wanted to finish that game but I would rather lose that game then lose a game on Wednesday.
"After our first couple of games I would have taken a semi-final spot because we knew it was going to be an uphill struggle from there. Semi-finals of the Olympics, can't complain."
Jennifer Jones' Canadian rink rolled to 9-4 win over South Korea to become the first women's team ever to make it through the Olympic round-robin without a loss.
"It feels unbelievable (to go unbeaten)," said Jones. "In my opinion this is one of the toughest fields that has ever been assembled for women's curling.
"To go through undefeated, and to go into the Olympic record books, is pretty awesome."
"At the end of the day we will take that one, but the goal is to be on the podium."
Sweden ended Japan's hopes of a medal with an 8-4 victory.
(Editing by Ken Ferris)