SOCHI, Russia: Muscles bulging out of their tight tops, Canada’s curlers threw down their brooms and unleashed giant roars after the game-winning rock settled in the house.
The “Buff Boys” sure did beat up the British in the men’s Olympic final.
Canada won a third consecutive Olympic title in devastating fashion on Friday, running over Britain 9-3 in just eight ends to match the biggest margin of victory in a Winter Games final.
“I was really expecting to have to make my last one, or to be in a nail-biter,” Canada skip Brad Jacobs said. “You never expect to go out there and blow a team out.”
All those 6 a.m. gym sessions really paid off for Jacobs’ rink, which has brought previously unseen levels of fitness to a sport sometimes ridiculed as “housework on ice.” Even after gold was safely secured, Jacobs, Ryan Fry and brothers Ryan and E.J. Harnden jumped in unison onto the top step of the podium in the flower ceremony, then jogged around the Ice Cube taking in the cheers of pockets of Canadian fans.
Their aggressive, confrontational style on the ice isn’t to everyone’s liking, but it’s certainly effective.
Just ask the British — they were virtually down and out after three ends. Behind 5-1 to the world’s best team, Britain skip David Murdoch knew by that stage there was no coming back.
“We didn’t get off to a good start,” he said. “And that’s what really killed us.”
After Britain’s near misses at the last two Olympics, just reaching the final was more than Murdoch and his young team could have hoped for. But Canada didn’t want to stop there.
When it comes to curling, Canada always expects gold. It’s the country’s No. 2 winter sport and it owns most of the world’s top players. National championships are often tougher than Olympic Games.
And the Canadians have delivered. For the first time since the sport returned to the Olympic program, the same country has won gold in the men’s and women’s tournaments.
Jennifer Jones’ rink went 11-0 as Canada reclaimed the women’s title for the first time in 16 years and Jacobs won eight straight games in the men’s event.
“Curling is a Canadian sport,” Jacobs said, “and it goes to show we are still at the top.”
Four Ukrainian women teamed up to win their country’s first gold medal of the Sochi Olympics, giving the politically divided nation some good news after days of bloody anti-government protests back home.
As government and opposition leaders worked on a political solution to the months-long crisis, the Ukrainian women won the 4x6-kilometer biathlon relay. The four medalists wrapped themselves in the Ukraine flag as they celebrated victory.
The first doping cases also hit the Winter Games on Friday. Italian bobsledder William Frullani and German biathlete Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle were kicked out of the games after positive doping tests. Frullani was due to compete in the four-man bobsled race, which begins today. Sachenbacher-Stehle, a five-time Olympic medalist, participated in five events in Sochi but did not win any medals.
Finland went up early in the second period when Olli Jokinen scored, but Loui Eriksson tied it up and Erik Karlsson made it 2-1 with a slap shot from the middle of the ice. Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist stopped 25 shots for the Swedes.
Marielle Thompson and Kelsey Serwa gave Canada its third 1-2 finish in freestyle skiing events. The others came in men’s and women’s moguls. Canada also won gold and bronze in women’s slopestyle skiing, and picked up a silver in the men’s halfpipe, for a total of nine freestyle medals. In the skicross final, Ophelie David of France wiped out about two-thirds down the course, giving the bronze to Sweden’s Anna Holmlund.
Viktor Ahn, who was born in South Korea and became a Russian citizen in 2011, now has a career record eight short track medals. In addition to winning the 500, he anchored the Russian 5,000 relay team. He also became the first skater to win all four individual short track events at the Olympics. The U.S. team won silver in the relay, ending a medal drought for the American speedskaters. The long track team failed to get on the podium in 12 events, and the U.S. had been shut out in the first seven events at short track.