Final stone seals Swedish curling gold

Sweden added the Olympic women's curling crown to the 2005 world and European titles by defeating Switzerland 7-6 in a knife-edge final in Pinerolo on Thursday.

It took a dramatic extra end wonder shot from Swedish skip Anette Norberg at the death to clinch victory taking out two Swiss stones to seal victory.

The Swedish rink, who have dominated the women’s game since the last Olympics in Salt Lake City, jumped for joy to celebrate their country’s first curling gold for men or women.

Skipped by Norberg, the Swedish rink took a two-point lead on the second end but the Swiss inspired by skip Mirjam Ott levelled at the next.

The Swedes, who had defeated Switzerland 9-7 in the round-robin section, then edged out into a 5-2 lead only for another two-point swing in favour of the underdogs to reduce the margin to one.

Sweden went 6-4 up at the ninth, but Ott sent the final into a nerve-jangling extra end when her last stone on the 10th took out two Swedish counters.

Switzerland looked in control of the decider until Norberg’s steely determination turned the tables with the last stone of what was an emotional final.

Canada, champions in 1998, brought the curtain down on their calamitous campaign by beating Norway 11-5 to take the bronze medal. The third-place play-off was virtually decided as early as the second end when Canada built up a 5-0 lead which quickly became 9-2 by the fifth.

Canada, one of the favourites for the gold, had endured a miserable Games typified when lead Christine Keshen missed the start of the preliminary round match with Norway because she overslept.

Amy Nixon then went down with a bout of food poisoning. To cap it all, her broom broke just before the start of the match on Thursday.

But she insisted she had no fear about the reaction back home, where around a million people play curling, to the team’s failure to take gold.

“We would prefer if it had been a gold medal, but it’s not a problem for us,” said Nixon.

“I don’t feel any pressure. If public opinion is good I feel better but I don’t worry about this.”


For members


The year Sweden organized the Olympics and defied expectations

Stockholm Olympic Stadium defied those who said Sweden wasn't advanced enough to host the Olympic Games in 1912, and has survived to become the world's oldest Olympic stadium actively in use.

The year Sweden organized the Olympics and defied expectations
Stockholm's Olympic Stadium as it used to look. Photo: Bertil Norberg/TT

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Taking inspiration from the medieval city wall of Visby on the Swedish island of Gotland, Swedish architect and athlete Torben Grut designed a stadium for the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm that would stand as a fortress of athleticism.

His success was both immediate and enduring, and the now-historic stadium has lived up to its impressive façade for more than a century, hosting countless sporting and cultural events, witnessing more than 80 athletic world records, surviving a bombing, and simply reminding the world of its important place in Olympic history.

Initially, however, the outlook for both the stadium and the Stockholm Olympics – the fifth modern Olympic games – was far from promising. As historian Therese Nordlund Edvinsson wrote in a 2014 article in The International Journal of the History of Sport, despite Sweden's “modest ambitions” for the games, “critics argued that the country was too undeveloped to arrange a major sport event”.


Djurgården versus AIK in 1915 at Stockholm Stadium. Photo: TT

The original plan for the stadium was an accordingly modest – and temporary – whitewashed wooden structure. The decision to make it permanent was likely a relief to Grut, whose other designs included Solliden Palace, the summer residence of the Swedish royal family on the island of Öland. Though still relatively small, with an original seating capacity of around 20,000, the completed stadium became a model for subsequent Olympic stadiums. Likewise, and in defiance of the critics, the Stockholm Olympic Games were considered a great success.  

In a 2012 article entitled, “Stockholm 1912 set the gold standard for the modern Olympics,” in the British newspaper The Guardian, sports journalist Frank Keating wrote, “Stockholm's 1912 Games are still considered standard-setting for Olympic decades to come. Women's competition was allowed for swimming and diving, while men's boxing was banned: and on the track photo-finish electronic-timing was introduced as a back-up to the hand-held judges' stopwatch.” It was also, he explained, “the last Olympics where any individual could just turn up and hope to enter a competition”.


One of the numerous concerts organized at the Stockholm Stadium. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Over the years, the appearance of Stockholm Olympic Stadium has changed little, and the seating capacity has even been reduced. In 2011 and 2012, the stadium underwent its only major renovation in preparation for its centenary. Nonetheless, it has been an incredibly adaptable venue, serving for many years as home to Swedish football team Djurgårdens IF, and accommodating a wide variety of sporting and cultural events – from ice hockey to American football and from Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti to Swedish DJ Avicii. It is also where the Stockholm Marathon ends each year.

The stadium has also maintained a long and at times somewhat chequered connection to the Olympic Games. In 1956, for instance, the equestrian events of the Summer Olympics taking place in Melbourne, Australia, were hosted some 15,000 kilometres away in Stockholm Olympic Stadium due to animal quarantine restrictions in Australia. And in August 1997, as Stockholm vied to host the 2004 Summer Olympics, the stadium was one of several sites in Sweden bombed or set alight by Swedish far-right extremists opposed to Sweden hosting the games.

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Although modern stadiums designed or used for the Summer Olympics now typically seat three to four times more people than Stockholm Olympic Stadium did in 1912, the historic venue still has a chance of returning to its Olympic origins. If Stockholm-Åre is selected to host the Winter Olympics in 2026, the snowboarding competitions are slated to take place in the landmark stadium, neatly tying together 114 years of Olympic history.

Victoria Martínez is an American historical researcher, writer and author of three historical non-fiction books. She lives in Småland county, Sweden, with her Spanish husband and their two children.