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Curling

Hosts with most

Canada sweeps up another win

Kevin “Old Bear’’ Martin (right) gets a big old bear hug from John Morris after Canada beat Norway to clinch the gold. The dominating Canadians went 11-0 in the tournament. Kevin “Old Bear’’ Martin (right) gets a big old bear hug from John Morris after Canada beat Norway to clinch the gold. The dominating Canadians went 11-0 in the tournament. (Morry Gash/ Associated Press)
By Janie McCauley
Associated Press / February 28, 2010

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Canada won the gold medal in its No. 2 sport of curling, with Kevin Martin’s men defeating a Norwegian foursome that charmed the Olympics with its celebrated flamboyant pants.

The 6-3 victory yesterday gave Canada its 13th gold medal, matching the mark for the most by any nation at a Winter Olympics - and it gave Martin the title he has coveted for so long.

“Today and all week he was amazing,’’ Canadian second Marc Kennedy said. “We had an all-around good team game today, and you couldn’t have it at a better time.’’

Martin’s last rock didn’t have to score, and it bumped one other opposing stone. The captain then threw his arms into the air, at last securing this championship in a storied career. Teammate John Morris grabbed a flag and brought it onto the ice.

This was the second straight Olympic gold for the Canadian men curlers, although Martin was not the skip in Turin.

This team went 11-0, capping the run with a commanding victory before a raucous sellout crowd.

Norwegian skip Thomas Ulsrud told his team all tournament long to just have a ball in these Games, and it brought out the best in this bunch. Christoffer Svae picked out the loud, diamond-print golf pants that instantly turned these curlers into cult heroes across the globe.

With Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the building, the pants didn’t dance.

“I thought we couldn’t lose in these pants,’’ Ulsrud said.

The 43-year-old “Old Bear’’ Martin delivered eight years after a heartbreaking miss on his final offering of the Salt Lake City Olympics that was heavy by an inch - in a loss to the Norwegians no less.

Martin’s team became the first since curling returned as a medal sport in 1998 to go unbeaten on the way to gold. The only other time it happened was in 1924 by Britain.

Martin waited just short of a decade for another chance at the top place on the podium. This time, he didn’t miss.

He came through a day after Cheryl Bernard and Canada’s women fell short on their final rock to send Sweden to a second straight Olympic gold as 6.8 million Canadians watched.

With Norway sitting three in the house in the seventh, Martin settled a red rock on the button with his next-to-last throw. Ulsrud then failed to knock Martin’s stone far enough away and Martin’s last shot was perfect to score two for a 5-2 lead.

Martin didn’t have his best day at 78 percent shooting, but he converted a big one to the innermost circle in the ninth and knocked away a great shot by Ulsrud. That gave Canada a 3-point cushion going into the 10th.

Martin’s teammates came to play, too. Morris, shooting third, pulled off a triple takeout in the second end, then a key double takeout in the fifth.

“Get outta town!’’ he said, pumping his fist. He took out two more Norwegian stones in the eighth, drawing cheers of “Johnny-Mo!’’

Kennedy also had one of his most consistent outings, shooting with 95 percent accuracy.

This team from Edmonton, Alberta, was favored long before the first Olympic rock was thrown, long before Martin’s boys won the Canadian trials in December.

Martin hasn’t ruled out making a go at the 2014 Sochi Games. But if this was his last hurrah, he surely went out in style.

Earlier, Switzerland took home the bronze by beating Sweden, 5-4.