GANGNEUNG, South Korea — 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, Feb. 22, to set up a final showdown with Sweden.
It marked the second time the team from the Duluth Curling Club beat Canada in a week — and now will face Sweden in the gold-medal game at 12:30 a.m. Central time on Saturday.
The Americans stole two points in the eighth end against Canada to take the lead, and held on down the stretch. They're now guaranteed an Olympic medal — either gold or silver — and marks the first medal for the U.S. since in 2006, when the men won the country's only other curling medal.
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.
The U.S. team playing for the country's first ever curling gold medal is comprised of skip John Shuster, a Chisholm, Minn., native now living in Superior, Wis., Tyler George and John Landsteiner of Duluth, Matt Hamilton of McFarland, Wis., and alternate Joe Polo of Duluth. They're coached by Phill Drobnick of Eveleth, Minn.
Andrew Krueger of the Duluth News Tribune contributed to this article.