By Steve Keating
GANGNEUNG, South Korea (Reuters) - South Korea qualified for a place in the Olympic women's curling semi-finals with a 9-6 win over the United States on Tuesday as Canada's hopes of defending their gold medal hung by a thread following a 7-5 loss to China.
A near-capacity crowd at the Gangneung Curling Centre erupted in wild cheers when the U.S. walked over to shake hands after the South Koreans scored a pair in the ninth end to leave them top of the standings with a 6-1 win-loss record.
Kim Eun-jung's foursome became the first Korean rink to reach the Olympic semi-finals and they could be followed into the last four by Japan (5-3) who continue to occupy a playoff spot despite an 8-6 loss to Britain.
"We found out we made history, but we’re not satisfied with only just this," Korean coach Kim Min-jung said. "We will do better in the rest of the matches.
"We feel like we want to give back to the spectators and all the Korean crowd because of the support they are giving us.
"They are putting so much importance on the fact that curling is not that popular and people don’t understand how we are doing well.
"Korean citizens think that we have come out of nowhere and we just appeared but we have practice over 10 years and we are programmed and made to be like this."
China (4-4) sit just outside a semi-final berth with one game to play against Sweden (5-2) and there is the possibility of three Asian teams making the last four.
After an ugly 0-3 start Canada (3-4) rebounded with three straight wins but the loss to China may have been a blow they cannot recover from.
Canada's frustration was evident as a grim-faced skip Rachel Homan stormed through the mixed zone without stopping to talk.
"We control our own destiny if we come out tomorrow and win then we are in a decent spot," Canada vice-skip Emma Miskew said.
"Starting 0-3 we knew it was going to be hard to win six in a row and if we can win five of those then we know we get at least a tie-breaker."
Canada need victory over Britain and most likely another win over Olympic Athletes from Russia (2-5) on Wednesday to have any chance of advancing.
"It's always a big match Britain v Canada so we're going to go out there tomorrow and play the way we know we can play and leave absolutely nothing behind," Britain skip Eve Muirhead said.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)