John Shuster and his US team will play for a curling gold medal against Sweden after Thursday’s 5-3 semifinal upset of Canada, a country that has struggled at the PyeongChang Olympics despite dominating the world of curling for years.
The Americans’ victory Thursday was a remarkable comeback story for a team that had never beaten Canada at the Olympics and hadn’t made the podium since the 2006 Turin Games, when they won a bronze medal.
Just as remarkable was the loss for Canada, which won the gold in men’s curling at the last three Winter Olympics. The Canadian women’s curling team, meanwhile, didn’t even make the semifinals here despite being the defending world champions.
Shuster’s victory follows a particularly rocky Olympic path. After winning the bronze in Turin, he was benched at the 2010 Vancouver Games in the middle of the tournament because his performance was so poor. In Sochi, Shuster’s team finished in ninth place.
‘‘It’s a pretty good story. This is just another step,’’ Shuster said.
The turning point in the semifinal came in the eighth end. The teams were tied, 2-2, and Canada had the right to throw the final rock of the end. But team captain Kevin Koe threw the stone too light and it came up short of the house. The United States had two rocks in the target, giving them a 2-point steal and putting them ahead, 4-2.
In the next end, Canada blew its chance to score 2 points with its final rock and settled for 1 to bring the score to 4-3. In the final end, Shuster threw the last rock, which knocked the lone Canadian stone out of the center of the house, adding 1 point to the US’ score and sealing the win.
Sweden defeated Switzerland, 9-3, in the other semifinal. The Swedes beat the United States, 10-4, in the round-robin session.
Russia doles out $15m fee
Within hours of curler Alexander Krushelnitsky being stripped of a bronze medal for a doping violation, the Russian Olympic Committee said it had paid a $15 million fee that was part of the criteria to have its team reinstated at the PyeongChang Games.
Russia’s team was officially banned from the Games because of widespread doping at the Sochi Olympics four years ago, but 168 Russians were allowed by the IOC to compete as ‘‘Olympic Athletes from Russia’’ under the Olympic flag.
The IOC is due to decide Saturday whether to formally reinstate the Russian team for the Closing Ceremony the following day.
Dutch in hot water
Vonn pays tribute
Lindsey Vonn came to South Korea with the goal of taking home an Olympic medal and leaving something even more special behind. She did both. The American ski great said Thursday she recently scattered some of the ashes of her grandfather, who served during the Korean War, on a rock near the mountain where the downhill races were run. She said she sprayed parts of Don Kildow’s ashes ‘‘just a few days ago’’ on a rock that she was told was special when she visited South Korea last year to be named a PyeongChang Olympic ambassador. Kildow died in November . . . The Kiwis crushed it on Thursday. First, 16-year-old snowboarder Zoi Sadowski-Synnott ended New Zealand’s 26-year medal drought with a bronze in women’s Big Air. A couple hours later, 16-year-old Nico Porteous tacked on another bronze in the men’s freestyle skiing halfpipe.