BEIJING (Reuters) – Sweden topped Canada on Thursday to advance to a second successive Olympic men’s curling final and will attempt to claim gold for the first time in the event against Britain, who denied the United States the opportunity to defend their crown.
Sweden successfully navigated their way out of a tactical and defensive battle to prevail 5-3 after Canada were unable to use the hammer to their advantage and fluffed their lines on the final stone at the National Aquatics Centre.
The U.S. team stunned favourites Sweden in the 2018 final to win the country’s first curling gold, but their flair and flamboyance was trumped by the understated precision of Britain, who roared in delight after sealing an 8-4 win.
“The yell that I gave out… I think people back in Scotland might have heard it,” Britain skip Bruce Mouat said.
“I’m really struggling to sum it up. We’ve worked so hard for this… I guess you saw from our reaction there that it was just pure elation.”
Britain have yet to pick up any medals at the Beijing Games, but Thursday’s win guaranteed at least a silver, ending concerns that the nation’s athletes might go home without a podium finish for the first time since 1992.
They will vie for the Olympic crown on Saturday against Niklas Edin’s Sweden, who beat them in last year’s world championship final for their third consecutive title.
“These young guns play a little too well for my taste,” said the 36-year-old Edin, who will look to complete his Olympic medal collection by adding gold to his silver and bronze.
“It’s going to come down to a shot here and there. We’re going to try to beat them with experience… We’ll see what prevails in the end,” he added.
Canada’s mixed doubles team, who won the inaugural gold in 2018, did not make last week’s playoffs while the women’s team were knocked out earlier on Thursday, leaving Brad Gushue’s rink as the country’s only hope of securing a curling medal in Beijing.
“We want to get on that podium. It means a lot to us,” said Gushue, who will take on John Shuster’s United States in the bronze medal match on Friday.
“We haven’t had our best week… and if we can walk away with a bronze medal, I think we can be pretty proud of ourselves for hanging in there.”
(This story has been refiled to correct first paragraph to second not third successive final)
(Reporting by Hritika Sharma; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Bill Berkrot)