Host City: Salt Lake City, United States
Venue(s): The Ice Sheet, Ogden, Utah
Date Started: February 11, 2002
Date Finished: February 21, 2002
Format: Round-robin pool, followed by single-elimination medal round.
Canadian domination of women's curling had continued in the four years since Nagano despite the untimely death of Canada's Olympic champion skip [Sandra Schmirler]. The strongest challenges to [Kelley Law]'s Canadian team were expected to come from Switzerland, Sweden and Denmark.
As expected Canada topped the round-robin stage winning 8 out of 9 games and losing only by a single shot to fellow semi-final qualifiers Switzerland. The race for the other two semi-final places turned into a dogfight as Britain, who were in prime position to qualify, lost their last two matches and were overtaken by the USA for third place. Germany needed to beat the already qualified Swiss to finish a clear fourth but a Swiss victory meant that Germany, Sweden and Great Britain would face a play-off series.
The Brits, who had somewhat fallen apart in the last round-robin matches regained the form they had shown earlier in the competition and came through the two tie-breakers to clinch a semi-final meeting with the Canadians.
Switzerland convincingly beat the USA in the first semi-final but the second semi was a prime lesson in how a single mistake can prove costly. Misjudging the line of the final shot in the fourth end, Kelley Law's stone pushed a British stone into the ring and caused the surrender of two shots to Great Britain.
Although Canada levelled the score later in the match the advantage of last shot in the final end was invaluable and Britain scored an unexpected victory.
The final was also a tight affair, the Swiss scored first but Britain fought back to lead 3-1 after seven ends. [Luzia Ebnöther]'s Bern club rink equalled the score at 3-3 which left the tenth and final end to be decisive. The championship came down to the final stone and British skip [Rhona Martin] played it to perfection. The stone caught a Swiss stone at an angle to deflect it into the middle of the ring to gain the championship winning score.
The unexpected success of the British team was a minor sensation in their homeland, TV schedules were swiftly rearranged to allow live coverage of the final and an audience of seven million stayed up until past midnight to watch their victory in a sport where the pre-Games record TV audience was less than 200,000.
One of the Russian team, [Nkeiruka Yezekh], became the first curler of African ancestry to compete at the Olympics. Whilst her mother was Russian, her father was originally from Nigeria.