Four medals for Canada at Winter Games
SOCHI, Russia - Canada has its curling sweep. Now it's up to Team Canada to clinch the hockey double at the Sochi Olympics.
Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie cruised to gold in the men's curling final Friday, defeating Britain 9-3 and giving Canada its second curling gold of the Games. Jennifer Jones and her Winnipeg rink won the women's crown on Thursday.
The men's hockey team will get the chance to follow their female colleagues to the top of the podium after beating the United States 1-0 in Friday's semifinal. The Canadian women won their fourth straight gold on Thursday with a thrilling 3-2 overtime win over the U.S.
Jacobs' rink struggled early in the round robin with a 1-2 start. But they caught fire and won six in a row before a decisive victory in the final.
"To get double gold for Canada and it be the first time ever, we're very proud of that," Jacobs said.
"We're really proud to see Jen's team go out and win the gold medal for the women and then to come out and repeat as men, it's incredible, awesome and obviously meant to be."
Jacobs' medal followed yet another podium double for Canada's freestyle skiing team as Marielle Thompson of Whistler, B.C., won gold in women's skicross just ahead of runner-up Kelsey Serwa of Kelowna, B.C.
Then in the men's 500-metre short-track speedskating event, Charle Cournoyer of Boucherville, Que., surprised with a bronze medal in his first Winter Games.
The four medals moved Canada to third in the overall tally with 24 â€” nine gold, 10 silver and five bronze â€” behind the United States with 27 and Russia's 26. Canada is now two medals away from matching the 26 won at the 2010 Vancouver Games.
Another medal is assured in men's hockey on Sunday when Canada plays Sweden in the final.
Thompson and Serwa's medals seemed like a given in the final. The pair helped each other down the track by calling out their routes as one of their opponents crashed and another trailed.
"We definitely tried to help each other, I'm not going to cut her off," Thompson said. "That's just how we went the whole way down."
Thompson and Serwa competed in blue pants as a tribute to Toronto's Nik Zoricic, who died during a men's skicross race in 2012. Zoricic was known for having worn blue jeans in the early days of his training because he didn't have the right snowpants.
"I'm sure Nik's up there smiling down and cracking open a couple of beers," said head coach Eric Archer. "We miss him."
Canada's freestyle skiing team finished with four golds, four silvers and one bronze at the Games.
The short-track team fell short of expecations with just three medals. Charles Hamelin had been expected to contend for gold in the 500 â€” he was the defending champion â€” but fell in the heats earlier in the Games.
Instead 22-year-old Cournoyer, whose best World Cup finish in the event this season was sixth, kept on his feet to win bronze on ice that caused both Valerie Maltais and Marie-Eve Drolet to crash in the women's 1,000.
"I came in here to have as much fun as possible," he said. "I was expecting to be good but the bronze medal? It was a fog for me. I was just racing, doing what I know."
In men's hockey, goaltender Carey Price made 31 saves and Jamie Benn scored the only goal in the win over the U.S.
Now Canada will have a chance to make it two in a row after a thrilling gold-medal victory over the Americans four years ago.
"A lot of people expect us to be there, and expect us to just show up in the final and have a chance to play for the gold medal, but we knew it was going to be a lot of work, a lot of effort and a lot of adversity to get there," said Canada's Jonathan Toews.
The U.S. meanwhile will have to settle for a bronze-medal game Saturday against Finland, which lost 2-1 to Sweden earlier Friday.
The final will also mark the first time Canada has won a medal in an Olympics held outside North America since NHL players began participating in 1998.
Getting to the final wasn't easy.
Both teams traded chances and Jonathan Quick stopped 36 shots in net for the U.S., but the one he missed came at the 1:41 mark of the second period. Jay Bouwmeester made a perfect sliding pass to Benn, who deflected the puck past Quick to give Canada a shot at gold.