olympic sports

Sochi recap: Curling, men’s semifinals

Canada’s men and women will be playing for gold, as Canada’s Brad Jacobs put on a clinic against China. Sweden and Britain went down to the wire, with Britain taking advantage of one small miss to move into the final.

Date: 19-Feb

Sport: Curling

Event: Men’s semifinals – China-Canada, Sweden-Britain

What happened:

China-Canada: World runner-up Brad Jacobs vs. the ever-improving Chinese team.

Liu Rui must have thought he had a good chance to steal in the third end, wedging his last shot between two Canadian rocks in the four-foot. But Jacobs knocked one of his guards into the four-foot and managed to eject Liu’s without knocking off his own, scoring two.

Each team kept scoring with the hammer, and Liu leveled the game with a good draw in the sixth.

Tied 4-4 in the seventh, Jacobs piled on the pressure with a deft double takeout on his first shot, leaving Britain with two in scoring position and a guard in front. Liu couldn’t get past the guard, and Jacobs drew for three and a 7-4 lead.

Liu answered with two in the eighth, with neither side making a serious error or spectacular shot. But Canada removed rocks with reckless abandon through the ninth, leaving Jacobs an easy takeout for three and a 10-6 lead. Canadian vice-skip Ryan Fry clinched the game with a double takeout, clearing the house with only three rocks left.

Sweden-Britain: Current world champion Niklas Edin vs. two-time world champion
David Murdoch.

After a blank first end, Murdoch stole one in the second as Edin struggled on takeouts. But Murdoch struggled with his own takeouts in the third to let Edin draw for two, and Edin hit a terrific triple takeout in the fifth to reduce complications and limit Murdoch to one. That gave us a 2-2 tie at the halfway point.

The sixth end was one of those cases in which a couple of inches can swing several points. After Murdoch failed to clear Sweden’s rocks from the house, Edin had a takeout that could’ve scored two (if Edin’s shooter also rolled out) or three (if it didn’t). The shooter stayed, but Britain’s rock didn’t roll far enough. It wound up a couple of inches closer than Sweden’s best rock and maybe a foot closer than two others. Instead of scoring three, Sweden gave up one.

Edin converted a simple draw for one in the seventh to tie the game 3-3. Each side made takeouts through the eighth, leaving Murdoch a classic curling dilemma — make a simple shot for one or clear out for a blank, keeping the hammer for the ninth? He made the shot for one, leading 4-3 after eight.

The ninth end was complicated. Murdoch left a narrow window for Edin to take out both of his stones in the four-foot. He did. Sweden took a 5-4 lead after nine, giving the hammer back to Britain for the 10th.

The pressure-packed 10th end had a few small misses, and Edin had the biggest. He attempted a promotion takeout, slamming one of his guards into the British rock in the four-foot. The guard went a few inches closer to the center, removing his own rock instead of Britain’s. Murdoch just needed to get his last shot on the button, either a draw or takeout, to score two and win. No problem.

Canada-China | Sweden-Britain | Scores and diagrams

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