GANGNEUNG, South Korea (Reuters) - The United States ended Canada’s bid for a fourth consecutive men’s Olympic curling gold medal with gritty 5-3 semi-final win over their northern neighbors on Thursday to set up a final showdown with Sweden.
There was no such drama in the other semi as Niklas Edin’s foursome swept past Switzerland 9-3 in eight ends to put the Swedish rink in position to claim the one major title that has eluded them.
Kevin Koe, who twice skipped Canada to world championships, had his team on the scoreboard first and they led twice but could not put away a determined Team USA who stole a pair in the eighth end to go up 4-2 and take control.
The loss heaped more curling misery on Canada coming on the heels of the failure of Rachel Homan’s women’s team to reach the playoffs.
Koe’s rink will take on Switzerland in the bronze medal contest while Homan’s foursome will return home with the dubious distinction of being the first Canadian team, men or women, to fail to win a medal since curling became part of the Olympic program at the 1998 Nagano Winter Games.
“It was just a frustrating game for us,” Koe told reporters. “The pressure is nothing new for us we’ve played a lot of big games, it’s like that for Canadian curling.
“We played well all week but it just wasn’t our greatest game today.”
It was a far different situation on the other sheet where Edin said his Sweden team played an almost perfect game.
Switzerland, who scored a dramatic tiebreak win over Britain earlier in the day to reach the last four, ran out of steam against the Edin foursome who finished at the top of the preliminary round group with a 7-2 record.
The Swedes broke open a close contest when they scored four in the fourth end to jump in front 6-1 and continued to pile on the pressure before the Swiss waved the white flag after eight ends.
“That was fantastic, we played close to perfect out there, we did everything we talked about doing and didn’t show any nerves,” Edin said.
“It was so close to a perfect game and in an Olympic semi-final that is pretty terrific.”
Edin has won just about everything in curling, skipping Sweden to world championship titles in 2013 and 2015 and a bronze at the Sochi Winter Games and now believes it is time to add Olympic gold to his resume.
“Third time is the charm,” Edin said. “We’ve got one more. It’s not going to got this easy I’m pretty sure of that.
“I know what happened last time in the semi-final of that Olympics (Sochi) and we are going to be prepared for everything out there.
“In my mind it is all about the Olympic Games and I want to be back for sure but being in the final now is the chance of a lifetime maybe and I’m going to try to grab it.”
Editing by Ed Osmond