Winter Youth Olympics: GB ice hockey skill specialist in medal contention

By Nick HopeBBC Olympic sports reporter in Innsbruck, Austria
Katherine Gale
Britain's Gale qualified for the elimination round in second position

Great Britain's Katherine Gale lived up to her billing as a medal contender at the Youth Olympic Games with a stunning qualification display in the ice hockey skill challenge.

The event, which is appearing as an Olympic discipline for the first time, consists of six tests including shooting accuracy, agility and skating skills.

Gale's score of 31 helped her progress to Thursday's elimination rounds in second position, where she will first face Italian rival Agnese Tartaglione.

"I'm really happy with the result," Gale told BBC Sport.

"The Italian girl in the quarter-final will be hard, but to win gold I've got to beat them all, so I'm ready for it."

Gale, who qualified for the Winter Youth Olympics as the number one seed, added: "I'm aiming to do my best in the final, focus on getting good scores, and if I get a medal that would be amazing."

In the men's ice hockey skills competition, Great Britain's Lewis Hook finished in 12th and therefore missed out on a place in the quarter-finals.

"I'm devastated but it's a really hard competition and I'm pleased with my performance overall," said Hook.

After a double defeat on Sunday, leaving Great Britain's mixed curling team on the brink of elimination, they gave themselves a lifeline by defeating Italy, but not before a fourth successive loss, this time to Japan in the morning session.

The extra-end 7-5 defeat meant they entered Monday's final match with a must-win scenario if they were to retain any hope of progressing from the group.

Skip Duncan Menzies performed well and, although the Italian skipper had the chance to seal victory in the final end, GB claimed a morale-boosting 7-5 win.

"The last end seemed to go a little pear-shaped and we weren't expecting him to miss his last shot," Menzies admitted to BBC Sport.

"It gives us a massive confidence boost, our defensive game is starting to work for us and we felt in control for most of the game."

The Team GB curlers will need more of the same against Russia and hosts Austria on the final day of group games. They must win both and hope that other results go their way to force a quarter-final play-off.

In Seefeld mountains, Calum Irvine returned for his second biathlon event in as many days. After finishing 35th in the 7.5km sprint, the Scottish athlete climbed six places with a solid performance in the 10km pursuit.

Irvine told BBC Sport: "Lots of the guys out there are pretty fast, the best in the world in fact, so I was pretty happy [to finish 29th]."

In addition to the curling fixtures, Team GB will be represented by cross-country skiers Sarah Hale and Scott Dixon in the 5km Classic and 10km Classic medal races respectively.

Ice dancers Millie Paterson and Edward Carstairs will take to the ice of the Olympiaworld Stadium for their free programme. The British pair lie in 11th position following the short programme on Sunday.