SOCHI, Russia (AP) Canada curler E.J. Harnden leaned on his broom, lowered his chin onto the palm of his right hand and made clear his frustration after seeing another of his team’s stones go awry.
”Man,” he said, ”we’re getting nothing with these rocks.”
A major upset is brewing at the men’s curling tournament at the Sochi Olympics.
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Canada, the two-time defending champion and big gold-medal favorite, slipped to its second straight defeat, losing 7-6 to Sweden on Tuesday. The team has only one win so far – and that was a sloppy 11-8 victory over Germany.
”It’s a two-way win, so to speak,” said Sweden skip Niklas Edin, whose team has won all three of its games. ”Both beating them and putting them 1-2.
”Now they can’t really afford any more losses to be sure of making the playoffs.”
Canada’s curlers were looking on the bright side after the game but back-to-back losses – even if they were against strong teams in European champion Switzerland and world champion Sweden – will jolt a lineup not used to losing.
Brad Jacobs’ rink became the first in history to go through Canada’s Olympic trials unbeaten, making them the overwhelming favorites in Sochi. Curling is Canada’s No. 2 winter sport, behind hockey, and the nation expects nothing less than gold.
”We’re not flat, we’re just not making everything,” Canada’s Ryan Fry said. ”Against teams that are playing this good against us, you need to make everything.”
Canada’s body language revealed a definite sense of frustration, however.
”In this game, they kind of struggled a bit,” Edin said. ”You could tell that on the ice … Smashing their brooms seven or eight times in a row. It was quite hard to miss. Almost all of them were doing it.”
The teams traded deuces through nine ends to make it 6-6, but Sweden crucially had the last stone in the 10th. Edin needed just to draw his stone into the four-foot ring with his final effort, but the team over-swept and the stone went farther than expected.
It came to rest just in time.
”When we shook hands, I had to ask them who won,” Edin said. ”It was kind of a weird moment not knowing.”
Curling is a game of centimeters and Canada just isn’t getting the luck so far this tournament.
After three sessions, Canada finds itself seventh in the 10-team standings. Sweden is first.
Norway, the 2010 silver-medalist, defeated Russia 9-8 to move to 2-0 alongside China, which won 9-4 against the United States in eight ends after the Americans conceded. Britain (2-1) came from behind to overcome Germany 7-6 in the afternoon session’s other game at the Ice Cube Curling Center.
Norway continues to show there is more to its curling than its funky dress sense.
Against Russia, the pattern on the Norwegians’ pants was red-and-blue splattered paint, meaning they still haven’t worn the soccer socks/flat cap/knee-length knickers combo that wowed observers during practice sessions over the weekend.
Norway was always in control against the host nation and the final score slightly flattered the Russians, who picked up three points at the last end.
Germany (0-2), the United States (0-2) and Russia (0-3) are all without a win heading into Day 3.
The U.S. loss means the American men and women are a combined 0-4.