The U.S. men's curling team continued a remarkable turnaround Thursday at the 2018 Winter Olympics, defeating powerhouse Canada, 5-3, to advance to Saturday's gold medal contest against Sweden.
The American men — assured of at least a silver — looked on their way out of the competition after a loss Sunday to Norway left them with only two wins in six games. But three consecutive victories pushed skip John Shuster's team into the semifinals, where they repeated their round-robin victory over pre-tournament favorite Canada.
Entering the Pyeongchang Games, the U.S. men had never defeated Canada in the Olympics.
"We've been in tough situations where our backs have been up against the wall. At two of the last three world championships we were in similar positions, where we had to run the table to advance," Matt Hamilton said. "We just told the skip that we had a lot of faith in him, and he knows that when we say that, we really believe it.
"He did what he had to do to bounce back, and now we're rolling. Look out, Sweden."
The other semifinal was far more one-sided, with Sweden's 9-3 victory over Switzerland all but secured once the Swedes took a 6-1 lead after four ends.
Sweden defeated the U.S., 10-4, in round-robin play, but the Americans' four wins in a row have them believing they have a better shot in the final.
"We have to keep playing like this, just believe we can do it, keep making shots," Hamilton said. "Sweden is going to make a lot of shots, and (we should) not get down when Sweden does make shots. You have to stay positive and know you'll make them back."
The eighth end was the turning point in the U.S. win over Canada, Team USA going up 4-2 from 2-2 after some misses by Canada.
"It's hugely disappointing," Canada skip Kevin Koe said. "What more can you say?"
"I'm not sure they played an amazing game," Canada's Brent Laing said. "We didn't put a lot of pressure on them … didn't play the way we wanted to play. Kevin made a bunch of huge shots when we got into trouble, and the eighth end just got away from us."
Saturday will mark Sweden skip Niklas Edin's first gold-medal match after falling in the semifinals in 2010 at Vancouver and again in 2014 at Sochi. "Third time's a charm," Edin said. "I really believe that, but we really have to play well. It's going to be a fight to the end."