You've been waiting for it. Pining, even. And it's finally here: the playoffs for curling medals. You can stop booing Team USA now.
(All times Vancouver)
Men's tiebreaker: Great Britain vs. Sweden, 2 p.m. — We make a big deal out of how the skips shoot (as we should) ... but honestly, every stone is important, as missed shots in the frontend domino into tricker, more precise necessity out of the leader. The guy to watch (if NBC chooses to show the WHOLE FREAKING END) is Great Britain second Pete Smith, who is dead last among seconds in shooting (76 percent). Look at the win-loss splits in Smith's curling percentages:
Six wins: 81.8 percent, worst: 76 percent
Four losses: 70.25 percent, best: 75 percent
It may start and end with him. But The Team Formerly Known As Scotland has the experience (two World Championships) needed to get into the eventual disembowelment round by Canada. Great Britain 5, Sweden 3
Women's semifinal: Sweden vs. China, 9 a.m. — What you're going to see in this game is a passing of the torch. Anette Norberg and Sweden won gold in Torino as well as a couple of world championships along the way. It's kind of a Dream Team based out of sleepy little Härnösand, Sweden.
But have you seen these Chinese women play? Jesus on a hammer. The only team to actually be paid full time to curl (by their own Olympic-loving country, natch), these are the only women to beat Canada in this tournament, and they are so technically sound that I have a difficult time seeing any other result. China 7, Sweden 5
Women's semifinal: Canada vs. Switzerland, 9 a.m. — This could've easily been the gold medal game. And in some ways, it should be. Switzerland's Mirjam Ott is the only curler with two Olympic medals — both silver (2002 as vice and 2006 as skip).
Unfortunately the runner-up trifecta will not be seen in the Alps. Canadian ringleader Cheryl Bernard has been better than any other skip, but perhaps vice Susan O'Connor has been more impressive. And second Carolyn Darbyshire might be the best second in the field. And on and on. Canada 6, Switzerland 4
Men's semifinal: Canada vs. Great Britain (or Sweden), 2 p.m -- I could go forever on the Canadian juggernaught during these Olympics. And I will: