It just wasn’t Canada’s Olympics.
The Canadians came into PyeongChang as the most decorated country in Olympic curling history – three golds and two silvers in five games since curling returned in 1998.
But for the first time, Canada will return home without a medal after falling to Switzerland Friday morning 7-5 in the bronze medal game.
The two teams were relegated to the bronze medal game after falling Thursday in their respective semifinals. Switzerland, led by skip Peter de Cruz, lost to Sweden 9-3, while Canada, led by skip Kevin Koe, was upset by Team USA 5-3. Both were now battling for a spot on the podium and some hardware to take home.
Both countries came into PyeongChang knowing they would be fighting for a spot on the podium. Switzerland finished third at the World Championships last year, and has previously won one gold and two bronze medals in the Olympics.
The loss hurts most for Canada though, coming in as the defending World Champions and winners of the last three Olympic Games. Not only did they fail to medal, but Canada’s women, who had also medaled in each of the last five games, were defending gold medalists and World Champions, didn’t even make it to the semifinals, making this Games especially frustrating for the curling crazy country. The only curling medal for Canada in PyeongChang came in mixed doubles where Kaitlyn Lawes and John Morris won gold.
Canada started the game Friday with hammer, and purposefully blanked the first end. Much like in the semifinal against the U.S. when Koe blanked two straight ends but saw Team USA steal two points in the eighth, the strategy again failed. Switzerland was able to steal one in the second after Koe opted not to go for a hit-and-stay, and saw his shot undercurl and completely miss, giving Switzerland the lead early.
Switzerland again stole one in the third, but Koe was able to get it back in the fourth. Canada’s Marc Kennedy set things up with a perfect triple takeout with two rocks remaining. Koe had a chance for a run-in shot and an attempt for three, bouncing his shot off the guard. The throw knocked out the Swiss stone, but also rolled out, so they only got two but were able to tie the game at a crucial time.
The Canadian team and fans felt the momentum could have been shifting in their favor, as fans broke out into a “Go, Canada, go!” chant and Koe’s dad could be seen running around the stands holding a Canadian flag.
But the momentum didn’t shift completely, as Switzerland was able to get two more in the fifth. Koe again had a takeout, but again saw his own rock also drift out of the house, setting up an easy lay in for Switzerland’s Benoit Schwarz to put another two on the board for a 4-2 lead at the break.
Switzerland scored two more in the seventh after Koe missed another double takeout attempt.
Koe came up clutch when his team needed it though. He came up with a huge double takeout to score two in the eighth to bring his team within one, 6-5.
Switzerland put another single on the board in the ninth, despite trying to blank the end to keep hammer for the decisive 10th.
The point proved to be more important though. Leading by two, Schwarz came up with a huge double takeout on the skip stone, making it impossible for Koe’s team to get the two needed to tie. Schwarz and his team threw their brooms in the air in celebration as they watched the last of Canada’s stones leave the house.
The bronze is the third in men’s curling for Switzerland, and first for each member of the team. As a country, Switzerland has now earned a total of seven Olympic medals.
The men’s curling tournament will conclude Saturday morning when Sweden takes on Team USA in the gold medal game at 1:35 a.m. EST.