Double delight for Canada and Sweden as they head for men's curling semi-finals
Sweden became the first team to qualify for the semi-finals of the men’s curling competition, thanks to an 8-4 victory over Russia in the 10th session at the Ice Cube, and they were joined in the last four by Canada who clinched their spot in the afternoon’s 11th session.
The Swedes had to navigate tough early resistance from the hosts, who pegged them at 3-3 going into the break, before skip Niklas Edin inspired them to up their game in the last five ends.
The reigning world champions then made sure of top spot in the final standings with a controlled 6-4 victory over USA, which means they will now be seeded first in the semi-final draw.
Sweden’s skip felt that his rink was finding its best form just at the right time. “That was actually our first solid game throughout the line-up,” he said.
“In other games two or three of us played well, but we hadn’t played well all four of us at the same time. We gave them no chances to win the match."
Never say die
They produced the highest scoring, and most exciting, match of the day, in which the two sides could only be separated by an extra end, with the Canadians prevailing 9-8.
Their second victory of the day meant Canada joined Sweden in the semi-finals on 19 February. But they were made to work hard for it.
Every time they built a lead, the Chinese drew level: at 2-2 after the third end, 6-6 after the eighth and then 8-8 after 10 ends.
In the extra end, Canada's skip Brad Jacobs used last stone advantage to score the winning point.
According to Canada’s second man E.J. Harnden, it was a mission well accomplished: “We said before we came into this game we wanted to finish the round-robin strong.
“We're here at the Olympics, potentially a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so you’ve got to take advantage and you can never say die,” he added.
China, Norway and GB in three-way tussle
In the morning session, Great Britain faced Norway knowing a win would send them into the semi-finals.
Conversely, Vancouver 2010 silver medallists Norway needed the victory to stay in contention for another podium in Sochi.
Great Britain opened the scoring with two points in the second end before Norway responded to edge into a 4-3 lead going into the break.
The British rink then clawed its way back to 6-6 to set up a tense final end, before Norway skip Thomas Ulsrud made full use of last stone advantage to score a point for a 7-6 win.
“That was desperate for us - we needed a win. If we lost we were out, so now were back in it. Anything can happen from here now,” said a relieved Ulsrud.”
Great Britain go into their final round robin match against rivals China on 17 February with both teams looking for one of the remaining two semi-final places.
And they now face an additional challenge from Norway who maintained their momentum in the afternoon session, seeing of European champions Switzerland 5-3 to keep their own hopes of a last four place alive.
The match remained in the balance at 3-3 going into the seventh end, before Danish skip Rasmus Stjerne Hansen took control to lead his rink to a 6-3 win.
Men’s standings after 11 sessions:
1. Sweden 8-1 (Qualified for semi-finals)
2. Canada 7-2 (Qualified for semi-finals)
3. China 6-2
4. Great Britain 5-3
4. Norway 5-3
6. Denmark 3-5
7. Russia 2-6
7. Switzerland 2-6
7. USA 2-6
10. Germany 1-7