SOCHI, Russia (AP) — A female spectator wearing a hat in the shape of a plastic curling rock clapped, then held up a sign that read: "Team Canada has real stones."
Ominously for its rivals, Team Canada also has real momentum in the men's Olympic tournament.
The two-time defending champions strung together back-to-back wins for the first time in Sochi by beating Denmark 7-6 on Thursday, putting a smile back on the face of its skip Brad Jacobs.
"We are getting better," said Jacobs, whose team has been scratching around for its best form this week. "I think we are learning each and every game and we are bringing a lot more intensity out there now."
Jacobs' rink, the gold-medal favorite coming into the Olympics, is in a major competition abroad for the first time and has found it difficult playing in front of Russian crowds that are far more boisterous than those in Canada.
That might explain why they lost to Sweden and Switzerland in their opening two games. But a team-bonding session, which included watching video clips of their unbeaten campaign in the Canadian Olympic trials, seems to have boosted their confidence.
The improvement was clear to see against Russia on Wednesday and then the Danes a day later.
"We are more used to adversity than sailing through things," Jacobs said. "It's familiar territory for us and there's nothing wrong with a good grind in a week of curling. We like it."
It was a successful afternoon for two of the other favorites for the podium positions.
Sweden consigned Norway to a first loss in the tournament by beating its Nordic rival 5-4, and Britain defeated the United States 5-3.
The Swedes and British are 4-1 and Canada is 3-2. Their victories kept the pressure on China, which tops the 10-team standings at 4-0 and had a bye on Thursday. The top four teams qualify for the semifinal.
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