Getty Images

What to know about the men’s curling gold medal game

Leave a comment

Team USA upset Canada on Thursday morning to earn a spot in the Olympic men’s curling championship game, where they will face Sweden.

Here’s everything you need to know heading into Saturday’s matchup (live stream here at 1:35 a.m. ET / 10:35 p.m. PT).

How the U.S. reached the title game

The United States had finished back-to-back Olympic tournaments completely out of medal contention with a 2-7 record. They appeared to be heading for a similar result in PyeongChang.

Team USA began tournament competition with a win against South Korea but followed with losses in four of their next five games, dropping their record to 2-4.

But, the United States rebounded when skip John Shuster delivered a perfect final shot to give his team a 9-7 victory over pre-tournament favorite Canada.

“It was fun to go out there and be the team and the player that got us here and that we’ve worked so hard to be,” Shuster said after that game.

The United States followed with wins over Switzerland and Great Britain to advance to the Olympic semifinals for the first time since 2006.

“It’s a little surreal right now still, just coming off of where we were to where we are now,” U.S. vice skip Tyler George said after his team clinched a playoff spot. “It feels like two different tournaments. One’s a dream and one’s a reality. Fortunately for us the winning streak is the reality, but we’re trying not to get too excited.”

The third-seeded United States faced second-seeded Canada in the semifinal round and captured another upset win. Shuster again delivered a game-winning shot, this time to move the United States into the gold medal game.

“We always want more,” U.S. team member John Landsteiner said about the championship game. “We’re going to play our hearts out.”

How Sweden reached the title game

Sweden, skipped by Niklas Edin, proved it was one of the top teams in the Olympic field early in round robin play.

Edin’s team opened competition with six straight wins, including victories over Great Britain and Canada, before falling to Switzerland.

“If we play at our best, I know we can beat every team in here,” Edin said after an 11-4 win over Japan moved his team’s record to 6-0. “We have been lucky in a couple of games, played terrifically well in a couple of the games… We are collecting facts and making sure of every shot before we play it. It’s made for a solid performance so far”

Sweden earned the playoff’s top seed after finishing round robin play with a win over Italy and a loss to Norway.

Sweden then cruised to a 9-3 win over Switzerland in the semifinals.

“Being in the Olympic final is the chance of a lifetime and we’re going to try to grab it,” Edin said to reporters following the victory.

Last time the teams met

Sweden registered a convincing 10-4 win over Team USA in round robin play.

In that game, the Swedish team scored four times in the first end and added a pair of points in two others, forcing the United States to concede following the eighth frame.

“We played really, really focused from the start,” Edin said after the win. “We made pretty much all our shots from the beginning, and the (U.S.) had a rough start…We just talked about focusing really hard on making the shots and not looking at the scoreboard too much, and trying to keep that lead.”

Numbers to know

Edin will earn his second Olympic medal regardless of the championship game’s outcome. He captured a bronze in Sochi after just missing the podium in 2010.

Shuster will become the first American to win multiple Olympic curling medals Saturday. He was a lead on the U.S. team that won bronze in 2010.

Shuster had struggled throughout the Olympics but made a game-clinching shot to lead the U.S. to an upset victory over Canada.
Read More +
Canada had won the last three Olympic gold medals entering PyeongChang and had played in the championship game at every winter games since 1998.

Sweden has scored 25 more points than its opponents in Olympic play, tops in the field. The United States has outscored opponents by six.

The United States registered an 80 percent shot success rate in round robin competition. Sweden finished at 87 percent in that category.

2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens TV, streaming schedule

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Rugby World Cup Sevens, held in the U.S. for the first time, airs live on NBC, NBCSN and Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from San Francisco’s AT&T Park.

NBC Sports’ TV coverage totals more than 30 live hours. NBC Sports Gold will also stream live, commercial-free coverage of every match with its “Rugby Pass.”

NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app will stream all NBC Sports and Olympic Channel TV coverage.

The Rugby World Cup Sevens is the biggest standalone competition outside of the Olympics for an event that debuted at the Rio Games. Traditional 15-a-side rugby was played at the Olympics in 1900, 1908, 1920 and 1924.

Like the Olympics, the World Cup takes place every four years, now in the middle of every Olympic cycle, with men’s and women’s competitions at the same site.

New Zealand is the defending World Cup champion for men and women, though Fiji took the men’s Olympic title and Australia the women’s gold in Rio.

The U.S. finished fifth (women) and sixth (men) in this season’s World Series standings, though the U.S. men won the only World Series leg played in the U.S. in Las Vegas in March.

The U.S. men are led by Perry Baker, the 2017 World Player of the Year, and Carlin Isles, the 2018 World Series leader in tries. The U.S. women feature Naya Tapper and Rio Olympian Alev Kelter, two of the top scorers from the World Series.

The NBC Sports broadcast team includes U.S. Olympian and Super Bowl champion Nate Ebner as a studio analyst. Leigh Diffey and Bill Seward are on play-by-play, and Ahmed Fareed hosts on-site studio coverage.

Former USA Sevens captain Brian Hightower, U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame member Dan Lyle, former Premiership Rugby and English international prop Alex Corbisiero and World Rugby Hall of Famer Phaidra Knight will provide game and studio commentary.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Fiji puts Olympic champion rugby team on dollars, coins

Day Time (ET) Network Coverage Highlights
Friday 1 p.m. NBC Sports Gold Men’s Qualifiers
4-7 p.m. Olympic Channel Men’s Qualifiers
7 p.m.-1 a.m. NBCSN Women’s Quarters/Men’s Round of 16
Saturday 12:25-3 p.m. Olympic Channel Women’s Semifinal 1
3-5 p.m. NBC Women’s Semifinal 2
5-6 p.m. Olympic Channel Men’s Challenge Quarters
6:30-11:30 p.m. NBCSN Men’s Quarters/Women’s Finals
Sunday 11:55 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Olympic Channel Men’s Bowl/Challenge Semifinals
2:30-5 p.m. NBC Men’s Semifinals
5-7 p.m. Olympic Channel Men’s Bowl Finals
7-10 p.m. NBCSN Men’s Finals

Denis Ten, Olympic medalist figure skater, dies

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Denis Ten, the 2014 Olympic figure skating bronze medalist from Kazakhstan, died after he reportedly was stabbed in Almaty on Thursday.

The International Skating Union and the Kazah Olympic Committee confirmed Ten’s death.

Ten, 25, competed in three Olympics and earned world championships silver and bronze medals in 2013 and 2015.

At 16, Ten was the youngest men’s competitor at Vancouver 2010 and finished 11th in his Olympic debut; he was also only the second singles skater Kazakhstan had ever sent to the Olympics.

Ten made unexpected history in 2013, becoming the first skater from Kazakhstan to win a world championships medal. After experiencing health setbacks at the start of his 2014 Olympic season, he was the biggest question mark among the top men in Sochi, but he surprised by becoming the first skater from Kazakhstan to earn an Olympic medal.

Ten struggled through health issues leading into his last Olympics in PyeongChang, where he placed 27th. Those Winter Games were nonetheless special to Ten, who was of South Korean descent; his great-grandfather was a famous general who fought for Korean independence, and there is a statue and memorial dedicated to him in Wonju, a town 35 miles southwest of PyeongChang.

Ten also played a significant role as an ambassador for his hometown Almaty’s bid for the 2022 Winter Games. Beijing got the Games over Almaty in an IOC members vote in 2015.

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.