Sweden and Great Britain were the clear favorites in the men’s curling field coming into this year’s Olympics, and now they’ll both get to face off for gold medals.
Sweden won its semifinal game in a low-scoring affair against Canada to return to the gold medal game for the second straight Olympics.
Great Britain defeated Team USA in a high-energy semifinal contest to reach the gold medal game for the first time since 2014.
"I’m really struggling to sum it up, but I guess you saw from our reaction there that it was just pure elation. We’ve worked so hard for this,” Great Britain skip Bruce Mouat told reporters following the team's semifinal win.
The gold medal game will pit rivals against one another with both teams looking for history at the top of the podium. Here’s what to know about the game:
Sweden, skipped by Niklas Edin, got off to a 7-0 start at these Olympics, and was the first team to qualify for the semifinals. The team limped toward the finish of round-robin play, though, losing their final two games to Great Britain and Switzerland.
“It’s so difficult to peak at the right time," Edin said. "Everyone needs to be healthy and you need to have done everything right and then play your best to be able to win here."
With the second loss, Sweden allowed GBR to leapfrog them in the final standings. Great Britain’s only loss of the 2022 Games came at the hands of Team USA in both team’s second game of the tournament.
Great Britain took the No. 1 ranking into the semifinals after winning its last six games of round-robin play.
Sweden came into the Olympics as the 3-time defending world champions. Great Britain finished second to Sweden at the most recent world championships. Mouat’s team -- which plays as Team Scotland outside of the Olympics -- defeated Edin’s squad at November’s European championship.
Mouat and Edin's teams have faced one another several times over the last few years, seemingly always in tournament-ending games.
Edin’s team, playing in their second Olympics as a group, comes into the gold medal game with Olympic experience that Mouat’s team doesn’t have. No member of Great Britain’s team is older than 30, and they’re all playing in their first Olympics.
“Those young guns, they play a little too well for my taste. We're going to try to beat them with experience,” Edin said of Mouat’s team. “They're bringing something new to the game. … For the last couple of years, they've probably been the most consistent team. And I think in championships over the past seven, eight years, we've been the most consistent team. So it's a clash of titans, so to speak, in our sport.”
Mouat and company come into the finals with a healthy respect for their new rivals.
“It's going to be amazing. Niklas and his team have been our rivals for so many years now,” Mouat said. “We’ve played them in numerous Europeans and world championships, so it feels really nice to be able to play them in a larger final."
Edin is guaranteed a third Olympic medal, which would be the most of any curler in history. Sweden’s skip has a bronze and a silver from 2014 and 2018.
“It would mean so much, obviously. The Olympics means so much in our sport,” Edin said of a potential gold medal. “It's not a huge sport, you have Europeans and worlds where you get a chance almost every year, but the Olympics, it’s every four years and everyone is aiming for it. In a lot of cases, it’s more than four years.”
Great Britain has won just two Olympic men’s curling medals. The country won the first Olympic gold in 1924 – that was the only time curling was competed before 1998 – and took home silver in 2014.
“I was aware Team GB had been struggling with the medal, but there's been so many great performances that we weren't really worried about medals,” Mouat said. “We were just kind of trying to get to this point and to be able to say that we're finally in an Olympic final. It's going to be maybe one of the best days of my life."
WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY
Here’s more of what each skip had to say ahead of the gold medal game:
EDIN - “I think both teams are playing super well at the moment. It's going to come down to a shot here and there.”
“We’re super happy we can just get another chance and then just leave everything out there, do what we can. If we don’t win, I think we'll be fine with it. We're just hoping to get a chance and then try to play our best and see what happens.”
MOUAT - "All our friends and family have sent us messages, even strangers have sent us messages, which we absolutely adore because it really shows us the support we have back home. I have too many people to thank."
"It’s their support that really drives us forward. We want to win it for ourselves, obviously, but it would be so special to win it for them and for Team GB."
EDIN - “It feels like it's going to be a really big game. Whoever wins deserves it. No one can say anything else... We're just going to try to play as well as we can. And then, if it doesn't win us the gold, we've done what we can here.”