Round-robin curling action continues at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, on Day 6.
The biggest showdown of the day featured Switzerland and Sweden. The Swiss entered the day a perfect three-for-three so far in Sochi, while the Swedes were right behind them at 2-1, so this carried some big implications in terms of the standings.
Speaking after her team's 9-3 loss to Canada earlier in the week, Swedish skip Margaretha Sigfridsson said, "We played a good game, but that is not enough when you play a team that is playing perfect," per the Associated Press's Steve Douglas, via ABCNews.com.
Sigfridsson surely felt that a similar performance would yield better results, and so it did on Thursday, as Sweden dispatched Switzerland 9-8.
As you could guess by the score, the two teams remained close throughout. As soon as one team went ahead, the other would mount a push.
In the early stages, though, Sweden gained a nice advantage, in large part due to the performance of Maria Wennerstrom. She was doing well, but her opposite number, Switzerland's Alina Paetz, was having all kinds of trouble directing the stone where she wanted it.
In curling, the slightest miscalculation can make all the difference, as you saw with Paetz's deliveries.
The break came at the perfect time for Switzerland, though, as Sweden had built a 6-3 lead through the first five ends. With that brief pause, the Swiss had some time to regroup and hit the reset button a bit.
They added three points of their own in the sixth end to level up the score, and with that performance, they snatched the momentum away and turned this into a game again.
It went right down to the wire, as the Swiss earned two points in the ninth end to tie the score at 8-8.
Having the hammer proved to be the difference for Sweden. It allowed them to have the final say in the 10th and decisive end. Maria Prytz delivered a perfect stone to give her country a pivotal win.
It was an appropriate ending, as the vice skip had been Sweden's best performer all night. Although Sigfridsson was their most accurate (85 percent), Prytz was often tasked with making the critical draw by virtue of being in the fourth position.
In Thursday's other early action, Canada remained perfect with an 8-5 win over Denmark, while Great Britain moved to 2-2 with an 8-7 win over China.
BREAKING: Jennifer Jones and her Canadian rink remain undefeated (4-0) with 8-5 win over Denmark. Next play Switzerland at 10amET. #Sochi— Megan Robinson (@RobinsonMegan) February 13, 2014
The Canadians are the favorites to win gold in Sochi, and they demonstrated exactly why in their systematic dissection of the Danes.
Canada dominated the matchup at the fourth position, as Denmark's skip, Lene Nielsen, was no match for Jennifer Jones. The Canadian star had 88 percent accuracy, compared to 69 percent for Nielsen. Jones led by example and illustrated why she's one of the best in the world.
Nobody looks like they'll touch Team Canada in 2014.
Like the Sweden-Switzerland battle, Great Britain and China went right down to the wire. The two alternated the advantage across each end, which only added to the drama.
The score was level heading into the 10th end, and it all rested on British skip Eve Muirhead. You couldn't have asked for anything better. It's like having LeBron James take the last shot at the buzzer.
Like the Swedish skip Sigfridsson, Muirhead won the game for her team with a superb delivery. It was pitch perfect:
WINTER OLYMPICS: Eve Muirhead plays a perfect draw to defeat China 8-7 at the tenth end. Team Muirhead now 2-2 in the curling #sochi2014— Evening News Sport (@edinburghsport) February 13, 2014
When the action resumed later in the day, the Swedes and Canadians once again highlighted the field, but Team USA was the huge story as they finally got off the schneid against Japan.
Terry Kolesar, the director of communications for USA Curling, tweeted about the first win for the U.S. women:
It didn't look good at the beginning for the Americans as they fell behind 2-1 after the first two frames of the match. But then they began to pull away in the third and fourth with three points to take a 4-2 lead.
Japan staged a comeback late to make the score 7-6 with just one frame remaining, but one final point would clinch a 1-4 record for Team USA and finally relieving some of the stress off of skip Erika Brown—for now.
While the team just has one win to this point, the sport is still seeing a rise in popularity in the U.S., as the NBC Olympics official Twitter account notes:
Along with the Americans, South Korea also earned a crucial win with a victory over the host country. The Russians fall to 2-3 with the loss and are ahead of just Team USA and Denmark in the rankings, who have a combined one win between them.
Can the U.S. women still advance?
As for Sweden and Canada, both continued to roll along with convincing wins over Denmark and Switzerland, respectively. The lone loss for either team came when Canada destroyed the Swedes by a final of 9-3.
With both controlling the entire tournament thus far, they appear to be on track for another meeting in the final as they did in 2010. But with the Canadians taking the easy win earlier in the Games, they could turn the silver medal from Vancouver into a gold in Sochi.
Here's a look at the full standings after Thursday's early action.
The men's bracket began shortly after the women's, and it was a return to old ways for the U.S. men.
After earning their first win on Wednesday, skip John Shuster and his squad were once again unable to pull out a close match against Great Britain. Shuster finished at 74 percent on shots for the match and allowed the Britons to jump out to a 3-0 lead.
While the match was mostly one-sided from the start, earning the first point was complicated for both teams, as Buzzfeed's official Twitter account points out:
The win for Great Britain moved them to 4-1, while the U.S. dropped to 1-3 thus far. The Great Britain Olympics Twitter account noted the importance of the win:
Though things aren't looking good for the U.S., there is reason for hope. The team has four matches left, and two of them come against Germany and Russia, who have a combined record of 1-8 in the Olympics.
As for the rest of the Games, the Norwegians once again stole the show with their spectacular pants. Mikey of 96.1 in Pittsburgh shared a photo of the Day 6 outfit for Norway:
The pants were great, but the Norwegians couldn't remain undefeated after a 5-4 loss to the one-loss Swedes.
In other action, the Russians picked up their first win of the tournament over Switzerland before their matchup with the U.S. on Day 7. If Team USA stumbles against Germany somehow, Russia could be primed to pounce on them during their second match of the day.
The Canadians moved to 3-2 on the tournament, leaving skip Brad Jacobs drained, as he tweeted following the match:
Though there were a plethora of mistakes by both sides, the Canadians appear close to securing a spot in the next round.
With a lot still to be decided in the tournament after Day 6, the next few days could determine who will advance. And with a fairly easy Day 7 draw, the Americans will need to pull off both wins to get back in contention.