SOCHI, Russia (AP) — If there's to be a changing of the guard in men's curling, it will have to wait a little while longer.
Canada maintained its grip on the Olympic title by reaching the gold-medal game with a 10-6 win over China on Wednesday, ending the breakthrough campaign of a team that is threatening to emerge as the sport's new power.
"To keep Canada at the forefront of curling and keep us in the medals really means the world," Canada curler Ryan Fry said.
After the Chinese conceded midway through the last end, Canada's players bumped fists to the backdrop of cow bells and skip Brad Jacobs roared: "One more, guys. Right till the end."
In the way of Canada and a third straight gold medal is Britain, which scored two points with the last shot of a tense semifinal against Sweden to win 6-5. It assures Britain's men a first medal in curling since the sport returned to the Olympic program in 1998.
Britain skip David Murdoch charged down the ice, repeatedly pumping his right fist, after making the game-clinching deuce to end years of personal woe on the Olympic stage. He lost the bronze-medal game against the United States in 2006 and a tiebreaker for the semi-finals in 2010 when Britain was the world champion.
"It's by far the best thing that's happened to me in my career," said Murdoch, who wore the broadest smile in the Ice Cube Curling Center. "We've had such close Olympic campaigns over the years, and it's never quite happened.
"We've always been that millimeter the other side of the millimeter. Now we are on the right side."
Britain now is guaranteed to capture three medals overall at a Winter Olympics for the first time since 1936.
Under the temporary guidance of Canadian curling great Marcel Rocque, China's players — known for their great technique but lack of tactical savvy — finally fulfilled their rich potential by reaching the playoffs in Sochi. Rivals acknowledged this could be the year China got in the medals but the team was put in its place by Jacobs' rink, which delivered its best performance of a mixed 10 days in Sochi.