SOCHI, Russia (AP) — A rowdy Norwegian curling fan wearing a Viking helmet stood up, held aloft a drink in each hand and went through his catalog of soccer-style chants.
His obvious efforts to lift the Norwegian curling team were to no avail.
Norway had two losses Friday on a day of close results, dramatic finishes and fluctuating fortunes, raising the noise and tension levels inside the Ice Cube Curling Center to previously unseen levels.
By the end of day five, China, Britain and Sweden were in a three-way tie for first place on 5-1 records, tournament favorite Canada (4-2) was tucked in behind the leaders after maintaining its ominous improvement with a third straight win and the United States was knocked almost out of contention after a heart-stopping loss to Russia.
"It was just outrageous out there," Britain skip David Murdoch said, summing up the general mood.
As for Norway, losses to the Canadians in the morning and China — the tournament surprise — in the evening left the 2010 Olympic silver medalist 3-3 and probably needing to win all three of its remaining games to advance.
"It leaves us a bit down in the mud," Norway curler Christoffer Svae said, "and we need to crawl our way back up."
Amid a din that reached a crescendo in the evening as all four games went down to the wire, one voice stood out. Rune Eikeland sang, and he sang, and he kept singing as he stood overlooking the sheet on which Norway played China.
"I was thinking, 'He has to fall asleep soon,'" Norway skip Thomas Ulsrud said. "He just kept on going."
Volunteers and security officials came over to calm him down.
"I'm guessing he was a ski fan and that it didn't go well in the slopes today," Svae added, "so he came down to watch a curling game."
The Chinese proved they are genuine gold-medal contenders by bouncing back from a 6-5 loss to Sweden in the morning session to beat Norway 7-5. Both games went to the last shot.