Canadian curlers begin to gather momentum ahead of playoffs at Beijing Olympics

After four consecutive curling losses, and many fans across the country starting to press the panic button, Canadian curling teams have rattled off five consecutive wins at the Olympics.

Gushue, Jones rinks bounce back after combined 4 consecutive losses in round robin

Brad Gushue of Team Canada competes against Team China during the men's curling round robin session at the Beijing Olympics on Monday. (Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

After four consecutive curling losses, and many fans across the country starting to press the panic button, Canadian curling teams have rattled off five consecutive wins at the Olympics.

And a curling nation takes a collective breath for now.

It's been anything but smooth for Jennifer Jones and Brad Gushue to start the event, but the past two Olympic champions have turned things around and are now pushing for the playoffs.

Jones, 47, was particularly up against it having lost three of her first four games. There were times during those losses the team seemed indecisive, lacked confidence and didn't seem comfortable with the ice.

They weren't bad losses — a shot here and there and things could have been much different for Jones and company. But that's curling at the Olympics now for Canada. There are no free spaces on the bingo card.

WATCH | That Curling Show - Jennifer Jones remains a curling threat:

That Curling Show: Jennifer Jones is as dominant as ever

1 year ago
Duration 47:36
Bruce Rainnie, Joanne Courtney and Mike Harris join Colleen Jones and Devin Heroux to discuss Jennifer Jones’ incredible form and Bruce shares a secret on her outlook coming into the Games.

It meant Jones needed to start winning in a hurry, nearly in a must-win situation the rest of the way. History shows four losses at the Olympics is the cutoff to make the playoffs.

With their backs against the wall, Jones and her team started to turn things around. Their second victory of the Games came against the ROC on Sunday in Beijing.

It was a dominating performance against the winless Russians — an 11-5 final set up another massive match for Jones, this time against Eve Muirhead and Great Britain waiting for the Canadians.

Jones saved her best game for the biggest game to date at the Olympics.

From start to finish, the six-time Scotties champion, two-time world champion and Olympic champion was absolutely brilliant against Great Britain. Her draw weight was dialled in. She made a number of double takeouts to get her team out of trouble.

WATCH | Jones's Canada shines in win over Great Britain:

Mike McEwen is ready to turn his attention to being an Olympic fan

1 year ago
Duration 7:09
Fresh off winning the Viterra Championship after dealing with some team adversity, Team Manitoba skip Mike McEwen is turning his focus to cheer on his wife, Dawn. He also shares his Valentine’s Day plans with his daughter, Vienna.

And when it mattered most, she delivered two clutch shots in the fifth end to score three and take control of the game.

Jones, like she has so many times through out her illustrious career, carried her team to victory over Great Britain.

Now the Canadian women are 3-3 and are in the thick of the playoff hunt. It doesn't get any easier. Canada now plays USA on Wednesday morning in Beijing. The Americans are a game ahead of Canada with a 4-2 record and in the final playoff spot. It's a crucial game.

The top-four teams advance to the semifinals, with the first place team playing the fourth place team, and second playing third.

The winners advance to the gold medal game.

Gushue poised to crack playoffs

On the men's side, Gushue and his team from Newfoundland weren't in as dire of a situation as Jones but they still found themselves needing key wins.

After starting the event 2-2, winning the first two against Denmark and Norway before dropping the next two against Sweden and Switzerland, Gushue went up against the defending Olympic champions from the USA.

Gushue took control of the game early, scoring five points in the first two ends and cruised to a 10-5 victory.

The Canadian men followed that up with a solid performance against Italy, winning 7-3 to string two wins together and sit with a 4-2 record.

On Tuesday morning in Beijing, Gushue and his team needed to grind a wild curling affair victory out over China.

WATCH | Gushue's Canada earns gritty victory over China:

The game featured six lead changes, with the Chinese refusing to go away.

But like Jones, when it mattered most, Gushue put up three points on the board in the eighth end to take control of the game.

Gushue is now 5-2 with games against the Russian Olympic Committee and Great Britain to finish. The team is poised to make the playoffs.

Many had started to question Jones and Gushue and their ability to get Canada back into the playoff hunt after dropping to two and three losses early.

But the two seasoned skips now have momentum and experience on their side. And that does not bode well for their opponents the rest of the way at the Olympics.


Devin Heroux

CBC reporter

Devin Heroux reports for CBC News and Sports. He is now based in Toronto, after working first for the CBC in Calgary and Saskatoon.

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