Italy will win its first Olympic curling medal on Tuesday.
Gold or silver, the honour will wrap up an impressive and unexpected run in Beijing.
Stefania Constantini and Amos Mosaner remained unbeaten with an 8-1 semifinal win over fourth-seeded Almida de Val and Oskar Eriksson of Sweden. The Italian duo is taking the mixed doubles tournament by storm, claiming a perfect 9-0 record in round robin play.
“We are feeling so happy, and we are really proud of ourselves,” said 22-year-old Constantini. “We realized that when we saw our families on the TV here, and we started to cry. It was a magic moment. Really, it’s a dream.”
The Italians will face second-seeded Norway in the gold-medal match Sunday at 7 a.m. ET. Norway’s Kristin Skaslien and Magnus Nedregotten edged Jennifer Dodds and Bruce Mouat of Great Britain 6-5 in the other semifinal.
The British duo, who won the 2021 world championship in Aberdeen representing their native Scotland, will play for the bronze medal against Sweden at 1 a.m. ET on Sunday. You can watch both matches on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem.
The sensational run by the Italians, who were up 6-0 by the time Sweden scored its lone point in the sixth end, isn’t going unnoticed back home.
“It’s very important what we are doing here because in Italy curling is not so known,” said Constantini. “Now lots of fans are following us, supporting us. They are starting to be interested in this sport; that for me is very interesting and amazing.”
‘We need more players in Italy’
Other than being happy for making the final, 26-year-old Mosaner wants Italy to also contend for the 2026 Olympic curling tournaments, when the Italian cities of Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo will host the Winter Games.
“I’m really, really happy about that because we need more players in Italy. There are, like, 400 players, not many,” said Mosaner.
“And we need to have a high level for the next Olympics. If we do a good job, then for the next Olympics there will be a lot of athletes to compete out there and to have a good team.”
Italy only took part in two Olympic curling tournaments before Beijing 2022. In Turin 2006, they were ousted in round robin play in both women’s and men’s events as the host team. They had the same fate in Pyeongchang 2018 in the men’s tournament.
Both Great Britain and Sweden are debuting in the Olympic mixed doubles event. The discipline was introduced in Pyeongchang 2018, when Canada’s Kaitlyn Lawes and John Morris captured the inaugural gold medal from Switzerland.
Morris and Rachel Homan were unable to defend Canada’s title. The Ottawa tandem was ousted in round robin play on Saturday after a 8-7 extra end loss to Italy that limited the Canadians to a 5-4 record and a fifth place in the standings.
WATCH l Homan and Morris eliminated by a millimetre in extra end:
Canada was downed in dramatic fashion. An upset defeat to Australia in the previous match meant Morris and Homan had to beat Italy to move on to the semifinals. It all came down to a millimetric measurement in the first extra end that didn’t go the Canadians’ way.
‘4 years ago we were underdogs’
Norway’s Skaslien and Nedregotten are also ecstatic to make the final.
“We always wanted to win a medal game in the Olympics. We knew it would be very tough in this field. It feels great to win the semifinal, it feels amazing,” said 36-year-old Skaslien.
“Four years ago we were underdogs. We had a great week but we were not used to all the media, all the fuss if you can say that. Everything around the Olympics.”
Great Britain had the lead until the sixth end when Norway took advantage of their power play to score three points and make it 5-4. The Britons used a power play of their own in the seventh to get the tie but Norway claimed a single and the win with the final rock of the game.
“I’m starting to cool down a bit,” said 31-year-old Nedregotten. “The moment right there when we secured the final spot was an amazing feeling. This is something we have worked so hard to achieve, so it’s just great.”
The Beijing 2022 men’s curling tournament starts Wednesday at 7 a.m. ET when Canada’s Team Gushue takes on Denmark.
Canada begins the women’s competition on Thursday, with Team Jones facing South Korea at 7 a.m. ET.
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