US curlers to play for Olympic gold after upsetting Canada

United States' skip John Shuster reacts after defeating Canada during the men's curling semi-final match at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018. United States won. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
United States' skip John Shuster reacts after defeating Canada during the men's curling semi-final match at the 2018 Winter Olympics. –AP Photo/Aaron Favila

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GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — John Shuster and his U.S. team will play for a gold medal against Sweden after a 5-3 semifinal upset over Canada, a country that has struggled at the Pyeongchang Olympics despite dominating the world of curling for years.

The U.S. victory Thursday was a remarkable comeback story for a team that hasn’t made the Olympic podium since the 2006 Turin Games, when they won a bronze medal.

Just as remarkable was the loss for Canada, which has won the gold in men’s curling at the last three Winter Olympics. The Canadian women’s team, meanwhile, didn’t even make the semifinals, despite being the defending world champions.

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The men’s semifinal match was tied at 2-2 going into the eighth end, or period. Canada had an advantage known as the hammer, the right to throw the final rock of the end. But Kevin Koe, the team’s “skip,” or captain, threw the stone too light and it came up short of the target known as the house. The U.S. had two rocks in the target, giving them a two-point steal and putting them ahead 4-2.

In the next end, Canada blew its chance to score two points with its final rock, when Koe threw the stone a bit too hard and it skittered out of the house. The Canadians had to settle for one point, bringing the score to 4-3.

In the final end, Shuster threw the last rock, which knocked the lone Canadian stone out of the center of the house, adding one point to their score and sealing their win.

An elated Shuster pumped his fist in victory and the Americans whooped with joy. Vice-skip Tyler George ran up and down the arena holding up his index finger in a symbol of No. 1 as the crowd chanted, “USA! USA!”

The Canadians will play for a bronze medal against Switzerland, which fell 9-3 to the Swedes 9-3 in another semifinal match.

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AP Sports Writer Jimmy Golen contributed to this report.