Day 15 saw the women’s curling come to a thrilling climax at the Vancouver Olympic Centre, as the defending champions beat the hosts in a fascinating battle, which took place in front of an enthusiastic crowd.
After 49 matches and 10 days of competition featuring 10 teams, the women’s curling final at the Vancouver Olympic Centre came down to an extra end and a climactic show of fire and ice. Fire from the wild, passionate 6,000-strong crowd there largely to cheer on a home team that reached the final with a red-hot record of nine wins from the previous 10 matches, including a victory against Sweden in the round robin stages. And ice from Swedish skip Anette Norberg, who was coolest under pressure to guide her team to an unlikely comeback and retain their Olympic crown.
Norberg, who describes her in-play demeanour as “like being in a bubble”, carries a stony-faced exterior that even her teammates struggle to penetrate.
Her experience as reigning Olympic champion, double world champion and seven-time European champion proved critical as, unfazed by the deafening noise from the sell-out crowd, she held her nerve in the closing stages, rallying from a 6-4 deficit by scoring two points in the 10th end and one more in the 11th, to win 7-6. By contrast, Canadian skip Cheryl Bernard missed critical shots in those 10th and 11th ends – relatively easy takeout shots that ordinarily she would have expected to routinely deliver.
“That’s how curling is,” said Norberg’s third Eva Lund, adding: “It’s about having nerves under control.” “It was an extraordinary game,” said Norberg. “It was the goal ever since Turin four years ago to come back and win another gold. We had a great week but we weren’t happy just being in the final. Winning gold again is absolutely unbelievable. All of the team are like my sisters. They are my best friends.”
Even after Bernard’s miss in the 11th end and the realisation that Canada would have to settle for the silver medal, the fans cheered their team to the rafters. “The behaviour of the crowd was absolutely outstanding. I think it is to the extraordinary credit of the Canadians,” said IOC President Jacques Rogge afterwards.
“There is no doubt we are disappointed in losing,” reflected Bernard. “However, we didn’t lose a gold. We won a silver and made our family and friends and our country very proud.” The extraordinary crowd support drove her teammate Susan O’Connor to tears afterwards. “It’s kind of like you come off a loss and you do OK until your mom comes and gives you a hug,” she said. “Well, it’s like that times a million.”