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Canadian curlers continue comeback in Sochi, defeating Denmark 7-6

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SOCHI, Russia - Brad Jacobs' rink continued its comeback at the Olympic curling competition Thursday, defeating Denmark 7-6 to improve to 3-2.

After back-to-back losses to Switzerland and Sweden, the Canadian men have now righted themselves with wins over Russia and Denmark.

"I think we're back on track," said Canadian lead Ryan Harnden. "We're still not playing to the best of our abilities, but we're getting there. We'll build off this one and just move on to tomorrow

"We're getting better," added Jacobs, who retained his optimism despite the losses. "I really think we played really well in the last four games … We're learning each and every game and we're bringing a lot more intensity out there which is what we need to do."

On the women's side, Winnipeg's Jennifer Jones improved her record to 4-0 with an 8-5 victory over winless Denmark in the morning session before facing Switzerland in the evening.

The Danish men led 2-1 after three ends before Canada scored two in the fourth and sixth — with the Danes scoring one in the fifth — to lead 5-3. Danish skip Rasmus Stjerne pulled one back in the seventh to cut the deficit to 5-4 but Jacobs responded in the eighth to make it 6-4.

A two by Denmark (2-3) sent it tied at 6-6 into the 10th.

Canadian third Ryan Fry cleared two guards and Danish counterpart Johnny Frederiksen hogged his attempt to place a guard. Stjerne sent his last shot through the house, setting the scene for Jacobs to draw for the winning point.

The Canadian front end struggled at times, with Ryan Harnden curling 71 per cent, down from his tournament average of 83.

"He struggled a little bit," said Jacobs. "It was just a matter of figuring out his rocks.

"Being the lead, he might get dumped a pig here or there, or a faster or slower, or a curlier or straighter rock. It's figuring that out and then I ice them properly and he adjusts."

Brother E.J. Harnden curled at 81 per cent with Fry at 91 and Jacobs at 83 per cent.

"It's another win, and that's all that matters," said E.J. Harnden. "We had a few misses here and there but overall I think it was a good game, a good game to build off of."

Frederiksen struggled for the Danes, curling 63 per cent, while Stjerne was 79 per cent.

The Canadian curlers, who watched video clips of their unbeaten run through the Olympic trials to pump itself up before Wednesday's win over Russia, believe they are headed in the right direction.

"When we lost those two games, we regrouped," Jacobs said. "We talked a lot. We talked with our coaches and we discovered what we needed to do in order to be better at this event. And that was really to bring a lot more energy to each and every shot each and every game. Kind of the same energy and intensity we had at the Olympic trials, throughout the Brier playoffs.

"It's just hard to do in that building with it being so loud. It can almost bring you down and we need to not let that happen and just play our own game.

The rink from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., is used to performing in front of packed houses but says the raucous crowd at the Ice Cube Curling Center is a new challenge.

"It's completely different," Jacobs said. "Big crowds in Canada cheer nice shots on every sheet and then are quiet while games are going on. Out there it's more like a soccer game, a football game or something. There's cheering non-stop and tons of noise.

"It's a completely different environment, something new to us and I think we've figured out now what we need to do in order to stick to our game."

Minutes after the Canadian win, the place erupted as the Russian men scored one in the ninth and then stole three in the 10th to beat Switzerland 7-6 and post their first win in five outings.

Canada is the two-time defending men's Olympic curling champion. Edmonton's Kevin Martin won gold in 2010 in Vancouver, while Brad Gushue of St. John's, N.L., was victorious at the 2006 Turin Games.

Jacobs says the bumpy start here may not have been a bad thing.

"We're more used to adversity than sailing through things, that's for sure. We've always been like that, we've always been the team that's taken the long route to getting to another event or to win an event. So it's familiar territory for us and, you know what, there's nothing wrong with a good grind in a week of curling, we like it."

The men take on Norway (3-1) on Friday.

In other men's games, Britain is 4-1 after beating the United States 5-3 and Sweden defeated Norway 5-4.

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