Martin to battle Norway for men's curling gold
Canadians defeat Sweden's Niklas Edin 6-3 in semifinal to book spot in final
Kevin Martin will get the chance to defend Canada's Olympic title in men's curling while getting his own second shot at gold after his rink dispatched Niklas Edin's Swedish foursome 6-3 in a semifinal on Thursday in Vancouver.
Martin's team of Marc Kennedy, Ben Hebert and John Morris are now undefeated through their 10 games in the tournament and will look for their 11th straight victory to repeat Canada's gold-medal performance of 2006, won by Brad Gushue in Turin, Italy.
Looking to play spoiler for the Canadian curlers will be Norway's Thomas Ulsrud, who beat Switzerland's Marcus Eggler 7-5 in Thursday's other semifinal match.
Martin and Ulsrud will meet in the championship game on Saturday, following the bronze-medal game between Eggler and Edin.
Saturday's final puts Martin in gold-medal position again, after his 2002 Olympic final, where he had to settle for silver against Norway's Pal Trulsen.
"Eight years to get back. It feels good," Martin said after the win over Sweden.
Beaten 7-3 by the Canadians a week earlier, Edin's rink started the game looking like they would be far from a pushover this time around, and kept the pressure on Martin through the first four ends.
After Martin blanked the first end with the hammer, Edin forced the Canadians to settle for the single in the second, and Martin's last shot had to bite a piece of the button to get on the board.
Fans quieted by strong Swedish performance
The Edmonton-based rink was lucky to escape the third end only surrendering the tying single. The Swedish rink quieted the usually rowdy crowd and forced some deep thought on the part of the Canadian foursome by lying three with only skip stones remaining.
"Boy did he come out of the blocks, strong," Martin said. "That was four doubles in the first four ends, I think.
"You have to wait it out and finally he did make his first miss in the fifth end."
On his first stone, Martin's out-turn freeze didn't finish the way he would have liked and wasn't able to tap the Swedish shot rock out of position. After Sweden decided to put up a guard with the first of Edin's shots, Martin used his final stone to limit Edin to shot stone only, with the yellow Canadian stone biting the back of the button.
Edin's final shot of the third was able to move his shot rock closer to the button, but could not eclipse the Canadian stone to score more than the single.
In the fourth, Martin was able to hit and roll the lone Swedish stone in the house to the back edge of the 12-foot to lie two with Edin's final stone remaining.
However, Edin was able to make the double and forced Martin to hit and stick for the single, giving Canada a 2-1 lead into the fifth.
Edin's mistakes cost Sweden back-to-back steals
And that was the beginning of the end of Edin's gold-medal aspirations.
In the fifth, Edin had the hammer and went for the tap back on his first stone, but missed the Canadian stone sitting in the four-foot.
Martin put his final stone in the top eight, and had the Canadians lying two.
Edin's final shot of the fifth — a raise takeout attempt — went awry, knocking both Swedish stones out of the house, and allowed Martin to steal a pair for a 4-1 lead.
Another blown final shot by the Swedish skip in the sixth end allowed Martin to steal another pair to take a commanding 6-1 lead into the seventh.
A blank in that end allowed Sweden to carry the hammer into the eighth, where Edin tried for a double takeout on his last rock for two points, but was forced to settle for a single and a 6-2 deficit.
Regaining the hammer in the ninth end, Martin faced a crowded button on his last shot and decided to throw it away to allow a steal of one to keep the hammer into the final end with a 6-3 lead.
All the Canadians had to do from there was peel the Swedish stones, shake hands and await the winner in the semifinal on the sheet next to them.
with files from the Canadian Press