Sochi recap: Curling, women’s gold medal game

The women’s curling Olympic title has returned to Canada at last. The teams weren’t the same as the 2010 final, when Sweden rallied on Canada’s gruesome errors to win gold, and neither was the result. Jennifer Jones and company wrapped up a perfect sweep through the Games.

Date: 20-Feb

Sport: Curling

Event: Women’s gold medal game, Sweden vs. Canada

Medalists: Canada, Sweden, Britain

SportsMyriad projections: Sweden, Britain, Canada

What happened: Jennifer Jones, perfect so far in these Games, looked a little uncertain in the first end. She had the hammer and needed a takeout to score one and prevent a score of three. She did, but it nearly hit a guard and nearly rolled too far away. Disaster averted, but would Jones be able to get back in the form she had shown so far in Sochi?

Maria Prytz, not the Swedish skip but the curler tasked with throwing the last rocks, scored an impressive single in the second, knocking a guard into one of her own rocks and dislodging one of Canada’s from the rear.

After a blank third end, Prytz was only able to take out one Canadian rock when she wanted two, leaving Jones an easy draw for a 3-1 lead. But Prytz got it back with a double takeout in the fifth.

Canada wasn’t looking as solid as it had. Using curling’s scoring system — four points or 100% for a well-executed shot, then three, two, one or zero for those that fall short — vice-skip Kaitlyn Lawes was shooting less than 60%, well down from her tournament average of 81%. More than once, she strolled back along the ice and slammed the tip of her broom to the floor in frustration.

They blanked the next two ends, carrying a 3-3 tie into the eighth. But Lawes again struggled with her two shots. After Prytz’s last shot, each team had one rock in the four-foot. Canada couldn’t quite tell which was closer. Jones tried to draw to the center and perhaps nudge Sweden’s rock just a bit. She did neither. The measuring stick came out, and Canada was relieved to score one and take a 4-3 lead — still less than they wanted with two ends to play.

Lawes improved with her deliveries in the ninth end, the second taking out a Swedish rock and leaving four Canadian stones in scoring position. Then Sweden’s Christina Bertrup had a rare miss, sliding her stone between two Canadians stones and out the back of the four-foot. Three Canadian stones were still in scoring position. Jones made it four with a draw to the top of the button.

Prytz responded with a raise, displacing the rock Jones just threw at the top of the four-foot but leaving one Canadian rock closer. Then Jones’ last rock covered half the button, leaving Sweden virtually no chance to score a double.

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But Prytz still had a chance to score one. Instead, Prytz’s hammer was a disaster. Needing to get to the button and dislodge Jones’ stone, she instead knocked her own previous stone out of the four-foot. Canada stole two, taking a 6-3 lead into the 10th.

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The 10th was anticlimactic. Canada kept clearing rocks, making a Swedish triple impossible. Jones had tears of joy in her eyes as her teammates took their final shots, and her own takeout sealed the 6-3 win and the gold.

Full results | Recaps with diagrams

Sochi recap: Men’s ice hockey, Sweden-Switzerland

A stingy Swiss team frustrated high-powered Sweden, but the Swedish veterans managed to get the only goal they needed in the last 10 minutes for the win.

Date: 14-Feb

Sport: Men’s hockey

Event: Sweden vs. Switzerland

Score: Sweden 1, Switzerland 0

What happened: For two periods, nothing. Switzerland rotated goalies, benching L.A. Kings goalie Jonas Hiller despite an opening 1-0 shutout over Latvia. Reto Berra, who just made the move to the NHL with Calgary this season, proved to be difficult to solve as well.

Sweden, which just lost captain Henrik Zetterberg to a back injury, took a while to get going. Switzerland, which still has more than half its roster in its domestic league rather than the NHL, outshot the Swedes 13-5 in the first period. Switzerland turned that around in the second with 17 shots to Switzerland’s seven.

The breakthrough came on a nice counterattack and a bad rebound. Defenseman Erik Karlsson, leading Sweden in ice time to that point, swung out wide and put a shot on net. Berra made the save but let it slide to his right, where five-time Olympian Daniel Alfredsson quickly swooped in to tap it into an empty net with 7:21 left.

Did we mention Sweden has Henrik Lundqvist in net? And Sweden kept the pressure off him late, pinning Switzerland in its own end and making it difficult to pull Berra. The goalie finally reached the bench with less than a minute left, and Sweden again came up with possession for several vital seconds. Switzerland found an opening on the right wing for one last shot with 10 seconds left, but Lundqvist had it covered.