Brad Jacobs wipes out China, will play for Olympic gold

Canada's skip Brad Jacobs looks on during their men's curling semifinal game against China at the...

Canada's skip Brad Jacobs looks on during their men's curling semifinal game against China at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Feb. 19, 2014. (INTS KALNINS/Reuters)

TED WYMAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:58 PM ET

SOCHI, RUSSIA - It says something about how good the Canadian men’s curling team skipped by Brad Jacobs is when their coach suggests they weren’t close to their best until the semifinal of the Olympic tournament.

“They finally showed up,” Rick Lang said after Canada beat China 10-6 and advanced to Friday’s gold medal game against Great Britain.

“That’s the team we expected a lot earlier in the week. That’s not an insult. I’m just really glad that the A-team showed up at the critical time. If you look back at the last couple of years, in big, big games, they’ve been the best team and beaten everybody.”

The Jacobs team, from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont,. made it two-for-two for Canada in curling as Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones qualified for the gold medal game earlier in the day with a 6-4 win over Great Britain’s Eve Muirhead.

Canada has now won medals in every men’s and women’s Olympic event since the sport was introduced in 1998 in Nagano.

“It’s great for the sport in Canada,” Jacobs said. “There’s a lot of pressure on the Canadian teams to come here and perform well. We have, to this point, so I’m really proud of Jen’s team, really proud of our team for making it this far.”

They may not know the colour they will wear around their necks come Friday, but members of the Jacobs team were enjoying the moment anyway.

“It feels phenomenal,” second E.J. Harnden said, standing next to his brother Ryan, the team’s lead.

“At the same time, there’s one colour that we want more than any other and that’s gold. Canada expects that of us and we expect that of ourselves.”

The Canadians used many of the tricks in their arsenal – big weight shots, double takeouts, finesse shots – as they systematically wore down the upstart Chinese team, coached by Canadian Marcel Rocque.

Gone was the frustration they’ve shown at times during the week, replaced by a loose team that was making precision shots all evening long.

“I don’t think any of us were nervous at all,” said Jacobs, 28.

“And that’s because of everything we faced this week. We won games by an inch, we had a bit of a rocky start (1-2). That adversity has helped us out a lot. It was a different feeling heading into that game. I really thought we’d be a lot more nervous but nobody was.”

The Canadians scored one in the first, two in the third, three in the seventh and three in the 10th to finish off the Chinese, who will play Sweden’s Niclas Edin in the bronze medal game Friday.

Canada’s opponent in the gold medal game is skipped by David Murdoch, an experienced curler who has been around a long time on the World Tour.

“They’re going to be a great opponent,” Jacobs said. “They’re a great team, they throw the rock well and we expect them to make everything. We’re going to have to make everything back.”

The Canadians will have the day off on Thursday and plan to do some light training in the gym to stay sharp for Friday’s game.

Third Ryan Fry, who had an excellent semifinal (94%), said the Canadians will savour the fact that they are Olympic medallist for a bit because of the day off.

“I’m going to enjoy it probably until some time Thursday night and then start re-focusing,” Fry said. “This a great win for us and a great win for Canada especially with the start we had and under the pressure that comes with wearing the maple leaf. To have a silver medal now and have the opportunity to play for a gold medal is a phenomenal feeling and one that we’re going to cherish through the night for sure.”

As the old saying goes in sports, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish and the Jacobs team is living by that mantra. They became progressively better as the tournament went along.

“This was definitely our best game,” Fry said. “We have a knack of being able to elevate our game in the big games. We brought it to that game.”

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