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Britain, Japan to play for Olympic women’s curling gold

Britain, Japan to play for Olympic women’s curling gold
Team Sweden, in blue, and Britain greet each other before the start of the women's curling semifinal match between Britain and Sweden at the Beijing Winter Olympics Friday, Feb. 18, 2022, in Beijing. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)

BEIJING (AP) — Eve Muirhead scored four points in the second-to-last end of regulation and Britain beat defending Olympic champion Sweden 12-11 in an extra end Friday night to advance to the gold medal match in women’s curling.

Britain will play in the final Sunday against Japan, which beat top-seeded Switzerland 8-6 two sheets over to clinch a medal for the second straight year. The British men are also hoping to bring the gold medal home. They play Sweden in the final Saturday.

In a bonkers women’s semifinal session, Sweden and Japan both scored four-enders only to have their opponents come back with a three — and in Sweden’s case, also a four.

Four-enders are rare. There were only a handful over more than 400 ends in 45 women’s round-robin matches; three-enders are more common, but still a high score.

Muirhead’s four in the ninth gave Britain an 11-8 lead — usually a knockout blow, with only one chance for the Swedes to come back. Sweden’s Anna Hasselborg did just that, scoring three in the 10th to force overtime.

But her last shot in the extra end was inches too far from the target, and Muirhead didn’t even have to throw her final stone.

The Swiss trailed 7-5 after eight and had a chance to tie it in the ninth, but a last-stone takeout was swept out of the back of the house, and they only managed one point.

With the last-rock advantage in the 10th, Japan scored a routine single point to clinch it.

In a matchup that mirrored Saturday’s men’s gold medal game, Sweden and Britain were tied 7-7 through seven ends. The defending champion Swedes had one edge: If things went according to form, they would have the last rock twice to once for the British.

But Muirhead made her one chance count: With her four yellow stones near the center of the target area — and a single red one even closer — she played a ricochet and nudged the Swedish stone away, leaving four British ones behind.

Needing three in the 10th and final end, Sweden filled the target area with rocks and then, with her last shot, Hasselborg cleared out the British red ones.

___

More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/winter-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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