Sorry, pants: Canada over Norway for curling gold
Updated February 28, 2010
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) Kevin Martin threw up his arms and allowed himself to celebrate for the first time during his perfect Olympic run.
His decorated curling career is now complete, a gold medal to go alongside that near-miss silver from eight years ago.
The 6-3 victory Saturday gave Canada its 13th gold medal, although Martin admits he wasn't keeping track of the standings. It matched the mark for the most gold by any nation at a Winter Olympics.
"Oh, we had a heck of a day, eh?" he said. "Well, we need to have more Olympic Games in our country, don't we? The crowd is a major factor, when you have that extra player on the field. It's incredible."
This was the second straight Olympic gold for the Canadian men curlers, although Martin watched as Brad Gushue's team won the title in Turin. Martin didn't even reach the final of the Canadian trials.
"Very, very happy. It's a dream come true," Martin said. "A lot of hard work and a lot of years to get it done. We made it one step further up that podium."
Earlier, Switzerland beat Sweden 5-4 for the bronze medal.
Martin's team went 11-0, capping the perfect run with a commanding victory before a sellout crowd that clanged cowbells, honked like Canadian geese and madly waved the Maple Leaf. Fans broke into the national anthem in the 10th, Martin's eyes reflecting the emotion of the moment.
Norwegian skip Thomas Ulsrud told his team all along to just have a ball in these games, and it brought out the best in this bunch. Christoffer Svae picked out the loud, diamond-print golf pants that instantly turned these curlers into cult heroes across the globe.
"I couldn't pull that off," Martin said. "Not sure if Canada is ready for that yet."
On this day - with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the building - the pants didn't dance. King Harald V of Norway was a no-show.
"I thought we couldn't lose in these pants. But, hey, man," Ulsrud said. "Those guys, they played brilliant today. We played not our best game, and that's just how good those guys are."
Martin, the 43-year-old "Old Bear," delivered eight years after a heartbreaking miss on his final offering of the Salt Lake City Olympics that was heavy by an inch - a loss to the Norwegians no less.
Among the first people to hug Martin this time was good friend Paal Trulsen, a current Norwegian coach and the skip who beat him in '02. That defeat helped fuel Martin's drive for gold.
Martin's team became the first since curling returned as a medal sport in 1998 to go unbeaten on the way to gold. The only other time it happened was in 1924, when Britain stayed perfect in a four-team event that was later ruled part of the Olympic program.
Martin's popularity travels far in Canada. The final ends were shown on the main video board across town at Canada Hockey Place as the first few fans filtered in about 90 minutes before the bronze-medal game between Finland and Slovakia.
And he hasn't ruled out the 2014 Sochi Games, when he would be 47. But it looks as if this is his Olympic finale.
"I'm not done yet," he said, chuckling and gripping that shiny gold around his neck. "I'm definitely going to play a couple more years. But it's sure a nice one to have - the first gold, in front of your home fans and family are here, and friends."