Canada’s ice men cometh again to make it three curling golds in a row against Team GB, while Sweden edge China for the bronze
Canada won their third successive Olympic men's curling title with a powerhouse 9-3 victory over Great Britain in the final at the Ice Cube.
Their victory, achieved after just eight ends, completed an unprecedented curling double, coming just 24 hours after the Canadian women's team had taken gold. No country had previously provided the winners of both men’s and women’s titles at the same Olympic Winter Games.
Canada, who have featured in every final since curling was re-introduced to the Olympic programme back in 1998, went into the gold medal match as firm favourites, having topped the rankings in the round robin stage. Moreover, they had already notched a 7-5 win over David Murdoch’s British rink.
On that occasion, the game had gone down to the wire, with Murdoch missing the chance of victory with his final stone. In the final, however, the outcome looked rarely in doubt.
Within the first three ends Canadian Brad Jacobs had spearheaded his rink into a 6-2 lead, as their British counterparts struggled to match the two-time defending champions’ formidable combination of attack and defence.
And it got worst for the Britons in the sixth, as Murdoch was too heavy with his last stone, leaving Jacobs with the chance to add two points for 8-2.
Great Britain reduced the deficit by one point in the seventh end, but then Canada scored a single in the eight forcing an early concession from Murdoch with two ends to spare, giving the champions a much deserved victory.
Canada’s E.J. Harnden, who competed alongside his brother Ryan in the Canadian rink, said he had been inspired by the performance of another Canadian sibling pair, Justine and Chloe Dufour Lapointe, who won gold and silver in the moguls earlier in the Games.
“I watched the Dufour-Lapointe sisters and honestly I held back tears watching that moment at the Olympics," said the older Harnden brother.
“They're standing on the podium side by side, one step down, and I thought it would mean the absolute world to me do to that with my brother."
“No matter what happens from here on, I’ll never ever forget the moment of standing on the podium with my brother.”
For Murdoch’s rink, it was also a landmark moment. Their silver was first men's curling medal of any colour for Great Britain, since their gold in the inaugural Olympic Winter Games at Chamonix 1924. But Murdoch was still desperately disappointed to miss out on gold.
“That was the opportunity of a lifetime but it wasn't meant to be today,” reflected the British skip.”
Ice cool Edin kept his nerve to clinch victory in the extra end, stealing two points for a 6-4 victory after the two teams were tied at four apiece after the tenth.
Current world champions Sweden started the game with last stone advantage having beaten China in the round-robin, and a cautious start saw them lead 2-1 at the half-time break.
A mistake from Edin allowed China to take the lead for the first time in the sixth before the Swedes struck back in the following end to level at 3-3.
China then edged in front again, 4-3, in the penultimate end, before an umpire’s measure was needed in the tenth to hand Sweden the equalising point and send the match into an extra end decider.
Despite last stone advantage, China failed to disrupt Sweden’s carefully constructed defences, enabling skip Niklas Edin to nick in for a two-point steal and a 6-4 victory.
“We needed this”
“It feels amazing. We had a fourth place finish in Vancouver so we needed this,” he said. “Fourth place again would have been devastating for our team.”
“It was a pity to lose, it was a good performance,” reflected Rui Liu who skipped China during just their second appearance at the Games. “The whole team played well during these Olympics, and though we missed the medal, we tried our best.”