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Canadian men continue comeback trail, women stay on top in Olympic curling

SOCHI, Russia — Brad Jacobs’ rink continued its comeback at the Olympic curling competition Thursday, defeating Denmark 7-6 to improve to 3-2.

After back-to-back losses to Switzerland and Sweden, the Canadian men have now righted themselves with wins over Russia and Denmark.

“I think we’re back on track,” said Canadian lead Ryan Harnden. “We’re still not playing to the best of our abilities, but we’re getting there. We’ll build off this one and just move on to tomorrow

“We’re getting better,” added Jacobs, who retained his optimism despite the losses. “I really think we played really well in the last four games a We’re learning each and every game and we’re bringing a lot more intensity out there which is what we need to do.”

On the women’s side, Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones was in solid form Thursday as Canada beat both Denmark and Switzerland by identical 8-5 scores to remain undefeated after five games and move to the brink of the semifinals.

The Danish men led 2-1 after three ends before Canada scored two in the fourth and sixth — with the Danes scoring one in the fifth — to lead 5-3. Danish skip Rasmus Stjerne pulled one back in the seventh to cut the deficit to 5-4 but Jacobs responded in the eighth to make it 6-4.

A two by Denmark (2-3) sent it tied at 6-6 into the 10th. Canadian third Ryan Fry cleared two guards and Danish counterpart Johnny Frederiksen hogged his attempt to place a guard. Stjerne sent his last shot through the house, setting the scene for Jacobs to draw for the winning point.

The Canadian front end struggled at times, with Ryan Harnden curling 71 per cent, down from his tournament average of 83.

“He struggled a little bit,” said Jacobs. “It was just a matter of figuring out his rocks.

“Being the lead, he might get dumped a pig here or there, or a faster or slower, or a curlier or straighter rock. It’s figuring that out and then I ice them properly and he adjusts.”

Brother E.J. Harnden curled at 81 per cent with Fry at 91 and Jacobs at 83 per cent.

“It’s another win, and that’s all that matters,” said E.J. Harnden. “We had a few misses here and there but overall I think it was a good game, a good game to build off of.”

The women’s team now has beaten all of its big rivals — Sweden, Britain and the Swiss — in the opening four days as it goes for its first Olympic gold medal in the women’s event since 1998 when the late Sandra Schmirler won in Nagano, Japan.

In Jones, Canada has probably the best women’s player in Sochi and she broke open a close game against Denmark by scoring three in the ninth to give her team an 8-5 cushion.

She made the difference in the ninth against the Swiss as well, playing a draw that just slid by an opposition stone to settle in the four-foot for three.

“There’s a reason why I’ve been playing with her for more than 20 years,” second Jill Officer said. “She is a great shooter, a great leader, a great skip.”

Jones thinks Canada still needs two more wins to secure a top-four place. But six victories has been enough to reach the medal round in the three previous Olympic tournaments where there have been 10 teams.

Sweden (4-1) is pulling out all the stops just to stay in reach of the Canadians. The two-time defending champion won both of its games Thursday on the final shot, scoring one with the hammer to beat Switzerland 9-8 in the morning session, then earning a steal to beat Denmark 7-6.

 
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