- 07 Mar 2018
- Olympic News
Curling golds for Canada, USA and Sweden
Kaitlyn Lawes and John Morris of Canada were curling’s first gold medal winners at PyeongChang 2018, winning the inaugural Olympic mixed doubles title. They were followed to the top of the podium by the US rink in the men’s competition and Sweden in a women’s competition, in which the exploits of the host nation’s rink gripped the world.
Lawes and Morris travelled to PyeongChang 2018 in search of the second titles of their Olympic careers. Lawes was a member of the Canada rink that won women’s gold at Sochi 2014, while Morris was a men’s team champion at Vancouver 2010. After fighting their way through to the final of the inaugural Olympic mixed doubles competition, the Canadians cruised to gold in a one-sided meeting with 2017 world champions Jenny Perret and Martin Rios of Switzerland, claiming a 10-3 victory after only six ends.
The match was effectively settled on the third end, when a Rios mistake allowed the Canadian duo to score four and move into a 6-2 lead. After stretching their advantage to 8-3, Lawes and Morris made a two-shot steal on end six to prompt the Swiss to concede.
“It’s surreal, to be honest,” said Lawes afterwards. “I don’t think even my first gold has sunk in and I don’t think it ever will. But it’s just a dream come true to represent our country on the world’s biggest stage and to be able to bring this home for Canada is so special.” Commenting on the Swiss team’s early concession of the match, she added: “I was a little bit surprised. We were anticipating playing eight ends down to the last rock. They are such a talented team and represented their country so well.”
Beaten 9-6 by Norway’s Kristin Skaslien and Magnus Nedregotten in their opening match of the competition, the Canadians recovered to win every game, defeating the Norwegians 8-4 in the semis before disposing of the Swiss to ink their name in Olympic history.
Skaslien and Nedregotten gained consolation in the shape of a bronze medal, following the disqualification of Olympic Athlete from Russia Alexander Krushelnitsky, who was competing with Anastasia Bryzgalov.
USA’s men time it right
The men’s final between John Shuster’s USA rink and a Swedish quartet skipped by Niklas Edin turned on the eighth end, which began with the scores locked at 5-5. It ended with the Americans racking up five points to move into an unassailable 10-5 lead, thanks in the main to a slip by Edin and a superb double take-out by Shuster. Though the Swedes – the pre-tournament favourites following their dominant form of previous seasons – clawed back two shots, it was not enough to prevent Shuster from claiming the first major title of his career.
Completing the podium were Switzerland, who defeated Canada in the bronze medal game to deny them a place on the podium for the first time since curling’s return to the Olympic programme at Nagano 1998.
Also comprising Tyler George, Matt Hamilton and John Landsteiner, the US rink had begun the tournament slowly, losing four of their first six round robin matches - going down to Italy, Japan, Norway and then Sweden by an emphatic score of 10-4. Shuster and his men recovered to make it through to the semis, where they saw off Canada 5-3. Playing a tight, defensive game, they gave nothing away in compiling their surprise victory over the Swedes, who had topped the round-robin phase with a record of seven wins and two defeats, before beating the Swiss 9-3 in the semi-finals.
“I’m usually the quiet one but I turned to Matt and said, ‘I think I’m dreaming. I’m going to wake up tomorrow and this won’t be real’,” said Shuster, the first US curler to appear at four Olympic Winter Games. “It’s just amazing.”
Swedish women end host rink’s fairytale run
Skipped by Kim Eun-jung, the Republic of Korea’s women’s team provided one of the most surprising stories of the XXIII Olympic Winter Games, producing a remarkable campaign to win a wholly unexpected silver medal. Also featuring Kim Yeong-mi, Kim Kyeong-ae, Kim Seon-yeong and Kim Cho-hi, “Team Kim”, as the host rink were nicknamed, became social media sensations and national heroes after scoring wins over some of curling’s leading nations to top the round-robin phase with an 8-1 record.
Also dubbed the “Garlic Girls” on account of the fact they all hail from the garlic-producing region of Uiseong, in the south of the Republic of Korea, skip Kim and her rink then booked their place in the final after a hard-fought 8-7 semi-final win over Japan, a match that went to an additional 11th end.
Waiting for them in the final were Sweden’s Anna Hasselborg and her team-mates Sara McManus, Agnes Knochenhauer and Sofia Mabergs, who moved into the lead by scoring two on the third end and consolidated it with steals on the fourth and fifth ends. The fatal blow came in the seventh end, when the Swedes scored three to take a decisive 7-2 lead. The home rink fought on for two more ends before conceding an 8-3 defeat on the ninth.
“It feels so great to be Olympic champions,” said Hasselborg afterwards. “We saved our best match of the week for the final. I’m so proud of my team-mates. It was an incredible match to play in. We focused on every shot and it was a relief when our opponents came to shake our hands.”
“Some people said I should change my name (‘Eun’ is Korean for ‘silver’) to ‘Geun’ (Korean for ‘gold’),” said Republic of Korea skip Kim. “I wanted to win the gold so much, but the Swedes are a great rink. It didn’t matter what we did; they kept finding the shot and protecting themselves. They really deserved their victory today. Sweden played the perfect game.”