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The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Jacobs rink gets vital win over Russia, improves to 2-2 at Sochi Olympics

Posted: 02/12/2014 2:49 AM | Comments: 0

Last Modified: 02/12/2014 1:36 PM

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China's skip Liu Rui, left, gives instructions to his sweepers Zang Jialiang and Ba Dexin during men's curling competition against Switzerland at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

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China's skip Liu Rui, left, gives instructions to his sweepers Zang Jialiang and Ba Dexin during men's curling competition against Switzerland at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

SOCHI, Russia - After a surprisingly poor start to the tournament, Brad Jacobs' rink decided to watch video clips of its victories in the national Olympic trials to fire them up.

It seemed to work, as Canada silenced a boisterous pro-Russia crowd and beat the hosts 7-4 Wednesday in men's Olympic curling action.

"It got us pumped," Canada lead Ryan Harnden said. "We just haven't been on our game. We've been struggling with rocks, ice, but tonight was normal Team Jacobs."

The Canadian rink from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., scored four in the fifth end and held off the Russians to improve to 2-2 in the tournament. The win was a welcome relief for the Canadians, who entered the match following tough back-to-back losses to Switzerland and Sweden.

"It was nice to take the crowd out of the game with that four-ender and it was nice to see all of us with the same intensity that we have had at the Brier, at the worlds and at the trials," Jacobs said.

"That was the main difference in that game and it's nice to be 2-2 now rather than 1-3."

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 crowned champion at the 2006 Turin Games.

Canada expects to win in international tournaments and is counting on a Jacobs team that followed a win at the Canadian men's championship with an unbeaten run through the Olympic curling trials.

"At this point we just need to keep our intensity as high as humanly possible," Jacobs said. "Each guy on the team should really live and die on every rock thrown. I think that's one of the keys to our success; the emotion and the intensity that we bring to each and every game. Hopefully we can keep that up and even raise it more."

Canada is tied for fifth with Denmark in the standings. Jacobs will look to move up the rankings when his foursome faces the Danes on Thursday.

Elsewhere, China's curlers kept up their surprise run at the tournament by beating Switzerland and Germany, leaving the team at the top of the standings with four straight wins.

With Sweden (3-1) losing 8-5 to Denmark in the evening session, Norway (3-0) is only other unbeaten team in the competition after defeating Germany 8-5 in the morning at the Ice Cube Curling Center.

The Chinese, who followed a 5-4 win over the Swiss by beating the Germans 11-7, are confounding expectations in only their second appearance at the Olympics. It may have something to do with the hiring of Canadian curling great Marcel Rocque as their temporary coach in July.

So what's the secret?

"I'm not telling you that," said Rocque, a three-time world champion with Edmonton skip Randy Ferbey and the "Ferbey Four" at the start of the century. "I'll keep that close. My old teams will watch this and they'll know what's going on.

"It's the first time they have a coach with this level of experience. What I got them to do is trust me and believe in what I was saying."

Norway caused a stir in the Vancouver Games in 2010 by donning diamond-printed pants for their matches instead of the usual black curling trousers that most teams wear.

In Sochi, the Norwegians have gone a step further and unleashed their new, bold range of clothing on the Germans. Wearing flat caps, knee-length knickers and dark blue soccer socks, the stylish Norwegians looked the part and played pretty well, too.

"It was knickerbockers vs. lederhosen today," Norway curler Christoffer Svae said. "And the knickerbockers won."

The U.S. men and women were a combined 0-5 after two days' play, but John Shuster's team ended the losing streak by beating Denmark 9-5 in the morning, with five of its points coming from steals.

"Getting a win was huge both for our team and for the state of curling as far as our country goes," Shuster said.

Shuster said the arrival of his wife Sarah and 9-month-old son Luke in Sochi on Tuesday sparked an improvement in his performance, after disappointing losses to Norway and China.

"I got a text message from my wife last night that helped me get in a much better mindset," he said. "She just told me to remember to enjoy this and be a curler, because you are out here doing something that you have fun doing.

"It really changed my complete being."

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