The action in Beijing at the 2014 world men's curling championships is about to wind down to a close, but not before epic gold-medal and bronze-medal games decide who will finish on the podium.
It's an all-Scandinavian final in the gold-medal match as Sweden have advanced to face Norway in the championship game after the Swedes upset Canada, the world's top-ranked national team, 10-8 on Saturday.
After the loss, the Canadians will move on to face Switzerland with the winner claiming the bronze medal and the loser falling off the podium completely.
Although there have been some surprises, each of the four nations still standing are in the top five of the world curling rankings, making for some enticing final bouts to decide who will leave Beijing with a medal draped around their necks.
Let's break down both of the upcoming games.
Gold-Medal Game: Sweden vs. Norway
The Swedes have an old foe standing between them and their second straight world men's curling gold medal.
Across from them stands Norway, which hasn't reached the podium since 2010 when they lost to Canada in the gold-medal game and claimed silver. The neighboring Scandinavian countries spectacularly haven't faced each other in a world championship final despite them sharing 19 appearances in the gold-medal game.
Sweden, the defending champions, will really make Canada's pain worse if they are able to make it two straight golds. It will take many more to match the Canadians' recent successes, but it's a start.
In order to do that, Swedish skip Oskar Eriksson commented on what must happen from his national team to the world championships' official site:
We just need to play like we played today and the last five or six games. I think we’ve done really, really well so far to get to the final in our first World Championship. If we can defend the title it would mean everything to us.
The 22-year-old Eriksson will gain his fourth medal in four years regardless of who wins the gold-medal game.
Bronze-Medal Game: Canada vs. Switzerland
Make no mistake—this year's finish at the world men's curling championships will be seen as a huge disappointment either way. But fail to win against Switzerland, and the Canadians would make it their worst finish in more than a decade.
2004 marks the last time Canada didn't finish in the gold-medal game, but they at least won bronze that year. To find the last time Canada failed to medal, you would have to go back to 2001.
But the Canadians can forgo that happening with a victory against the Swiss in Beijing, which would make it 13 straight years with a medal for the national team. That would be at least a little consolation for having to watch the gold-medal game and see either Sweden or Norway take the championship.
It will be a tough test to get past the Swiss, however. They haven't made it this far in the tournament since 2007, and that comes despite them staying among the world's elite and even hosting the tournament one year.
Canada will have to be up for the competition despite suffering a heartbreaking loss to Sweden that eliminated them from the gold-medal game. Canadian curler Kevin Koe commented on the tough turnaround, per the world championships' official site:
We'll try our hardest to win. It'll be hard, we're disappointed - we came here thinking we'd be in that gold-medal game. But we'll be here in the morning and we'll be trying to win a medal.
Switzerland will be hungry to end Canada's medal streak, and if the Canadians are still emotionally down from their loss to Sweden, another upset could be brewing.
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