SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Sweden and Canada became the first men's teams to qualify for the Olympic curling semifinals on Sunday, and Britain missed the chance to join them by losing to Norway.
Playing in front of their king, Carl XVI Gustaf, the Swedes beat Russia 8-4 in nine ends to move into the outright lead at 7-1. They are the reigning world champions.
Canada (6-2) stole a point at the last end to secure an 8-6 win over the U.S., which now cannot qualify.
Norway (4-3) staved off elimination with a 7-6 win over Britain (5-3), ensuring there will be plenty to play for going into the final day of round-robin action Monday.
"It was one of the most important games of our career," said Haavard Vad Petersson, who was part of the Norway team that won an Olympic silver medal in 2010. "We had to win this one to stay alive.
"We have won a medal before but we want to get gold."
The Canadians didn't know they had qualified when they came off the ice after a tense win over the U.S. team, but they soon were celebrating.
Even if the Canadians lose their last game — to China in the evening session — the worst they could finish is tied at 6-3 with Norway and Britain. They would qualify on a superior head-to-head record, the Canadian Curling Association confirmed.
"We played all right, definitely not our best, but it's still good to get the win knowing that we didn't put our best performance together," Canada skip Brad Jacobs said.
The game came down to the final shot, delivered by U.S. skip John Shuster. His draw settled around the button next to a Canadian stone, which was closer by barely half an inch.
"Sometimes you are on the right side and sometimes on the wrong side," Shuster said. "It just sucks that we've been on the wrong side at the Olympics."
The Americans are 2-5.
Norway's final two games are against Switzerland and Denmark, both of which are out of contention. Britain's last game is against China.