World champions Switzerland slipped past a jittery Olympic Athletes from Russia team on Monday to join Canada in the final of the mixed doubles curling in the Pyeongchang Winter Games. Trailing 6-5 and down to last rock with a spot in the final on the line, Aleksandr Krushelnitckiy looked on in dismay as his shot coasted through the house allowing the Swiss to steal a point and seal a dramatic 7-5 win.
The victory set up an intriguing gold medal showdown on Tuesday between the Swiss world champions Jenny Perret and Martin Rios and Canada’s two Olympic gold medallists John Morris and Kaitlyn Lawes.
“One more, we need one more,” said Rios. “I don’t why I was calm, I felt we were going to win that game somehow. I don’t know if they just wanted to draw for extra ends or tap it, the tap would have been really hard but nothing to blame on them if they went for it.
“It is a shot you make to win an Olympic semi-final. They took a decision and tried it… this time we were the lucky winners.”
For all the success Canada has had in the traditional format, winning the last three Olympic golds in the men’s competition and the women’s twice, the curling powerhouse has never captured a mixed doubles world title.
Only three times since the International Curling Federation introduced a mixed doubles world championship in 2008 have Canadians stood on the podium. Switzerland, however, have won the world title six of 10 times it has been contested.
Mixed doubles, making its debut as an Olympic event in Pyeongchang, features a maximum eight ends as opposed to 10, and there is no shot-calling skip as in the four-player, single sex format of the sport.
Canada led their semi-final from the start scoring two points in the first end before the Norwegians hit back with one point in each of the second and third.
Lawes, a member of Canada’s gold medal women’s team in Sochi and Morris, part of the men’s gold medal foursome at the 2010 Vancouver Games, quickly turned a nail-biter into a runaway victory scoring two in the fifth end and three in the seventh to clinch at least a silver.
“It was a high pressure game but that’s what I live for, I love playing those games and the juices were flowing today,” said Morris. “Mixed doubles you have to play a full eight ends. So I wasn’t sweating it that we were missing a few chances.
“This is where we wanted to be, we know we are going to have a heck of battle in the final.”