Swiss win Olympic bronze medal in men's curling
Updated February 27, 2010
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) Ralph Stoeckli fell to his knees, put his hands on his head in pure exuberance and did a spread eagle on the ice.
After all the near misses, it was Switzerland's time. A bronze, and in curling-crazy Canada where it almost counts a little more.
"Finally, finally," Stoeckli said just several minutes after the match. "That was just amazing."
Stoeckli scored two points with his final stone that nearly traveled too far, lifting his team to a 5-4 victory over Sweden on Saturday for a spot on the podium at last.
The 33-year-old Stoeckli and the Swiss were fourth at the 2009 world championships, and Stoeckli placed fifth in the 2006 Winter Olympics.
"I told the guys, 'I just don't want to leave this place again in fourth place,'" said Stoeckli, who plans to let his 18-month-old daughter, Fiona, play with the hardware. "We're all so happy that we finally got that medal."
The Swedes and skip Niklas Edin were trying to make it two curling medals for their country. A day earlier, the Swedish women defended their gold from Turin four years ago.
Edin had a big quadruple takeout in the ninth when four Swiss stones were in scoring position. Swiss Skip Markus Eggler knew it would be tough to bounce back from that incredible shot, but his players reminded themselves they were right where they wanted to be: down one heading into the 10th with last-rock advantage.
"Luckily, I didn't have too much time to think about it," Stoeckli said of his game-winning stone. "There was like 1½ minutes left on the match clock, so I was just going down to the hack and I knew I had to throw the exact same shot I just threw the one before."
The 24-year-old Edin didn't miss many in an impressive Olympic debut, but he couldn't convert in the final end. He was in control for much of this game.
"I'm really disappointed," he said. "We were really lucky to get out of that ninth end, of course. We should have had a better start in the 10th end as well. I had the same draw again, and I really should make that one. But there was some pressure on it, and we didn't have that much time left, either."
Some are calling Edin the young Kevin Martin, as in the 43-year-old Canadian curling star. Edin won't go that far, but he's already thinking about making another run at a medal at Sochi in 2014 and beyond.
Sweden pulled off an upset of reigning world champion Scottish skip David Murdoch and his Britain team in a tiebreaker Wednesday before losing to Martin and top-seeded Canada in Thursday's semifinals.
When Edin escaped the major jam with four Swiss rocks in the house in the ninth, he pumped his broom. When the tides turned, he pounded it.
The Swiss had lost to Edin's team at the European championships last year.
"We were very lucky that he finally made a mistake," Simon Struebin said. "Niklas played an absolutely outstanding game. He had two mistakes the whole game, and one cost him in the end."
Struebin and Stoeckli have been teammates since they were junior curlers 21 years ago, and this could be it for this foursome. It was Struebin who signaled the victory to Stoeckli some 70 feet down the ice just by raising his arms in triumph.
Stoeckli said afterward he wasn't sure he would sign on for another four-year commitment to the Winter Olympics. Struebin didn't know either.
"Probably it will be our last game together," Struebin said. "To finish it off with a bronze is just amazing."