Team USA upset Canada on Thursday morning to earn a spot in the Olympic men’s curling championship game, where they will face Sweden.
Here’s everything you need to know heading into Saturday’s matchup.
How the U.S. reached the title game
The United States had finished back-to-back Olympic tournaments completely out of medal contention with a 2-7 record. They appeared to be heading for a similar result in PyeongChang.
Team USA began tournament competition with a win against South Korea but followed with losses in four of their next five games, dropping their record to 2-4.
But, the United States rebounded when skip John Shuster delivered a perfect final shot to give his team a 9-7 victory over pre-tournament favorite Canada.
“It was fun to go out there and be the team and the player that got us here and that we’ve worked so hard to be,” Shuster said after that game.
The United States followed with wins over Switzerland and Great Britain to advance to the Olympic semifinals for the first time since 2006.
“It’s a little surreal right now still, just coming off of where we were to where we are now,” U.S. vice skip Tyler George said after his team clinched a playoff spot. “It feels like two different tournaments. One’s a dream and one’s a reality. Fortunately for us the winning streak is the reality, but we’re trying not to get too excited.”
The third-seeded United States faced second-seeded Canada in the semifinal round and captured another upset win. Shuster again delivered a game-winning shot, this time to move the United States into the gold medal game.
“We always want more,” U.S. team member John Landsteiner said about the championship game. “We’re going to play our hearts out.”
How Sweden reached the title game
Sweden, skipped by Niklas Edin, proved it was one of the top teams in the Olympic field early in round robin play.
Edin’s team opened competition with six straight wins, including victories over Great Britain and Canada, before falling to Switzerland.
“If we play at our best, I know we can beat every team in here,” Edin said after an 11-4 win over Japan moved his team’s record to 6-0. “We have been lucky in a couple of games, played terrifically well in a couple of the games… We are collecting facts and making sure of every shot before we play it. It’s made for a solid performance so far”
Sweden earned the playoff’s top seed after finishing round robin play with a win over Italy and a loss to Norway.
Sweden then cruised to a 9-3 win over Switzerland in the semifinals.
“Being in the Olympic final is the chance of a lifetime and we’re going to try to grab it,” Edin said to reporters following the victory.
Last time the teams met
Sweden registered a convincing 10-4 win over Team USA in round robin play.
In that game, the Swedish team scored four times in the first end and added a pair of points in two others, forcing the United States to concede following the eighth frame.
“We played really, really focused from the start,” Edin said after the win. “We made pretty much all our shots from the beginning, and the (U.S.) had a rough start…We just talked about focusing really hard on making the shots and not looking at the scoreboard too much, and trying to keep that lead.”
Numbers to know
Edin will earn his second Olympic medal regardless of the championship game’s outcome. He captured a bronze in Sochi after just missing the podium in 2010.
Shuster will become the first American to win multiple Olympic curling medals Saturday. He was a lead on the U.S. team that won bronze in 2010.
Canada had won the last three Olympic gold medals entering PyeongChang and had played in the championship game at every winter games since 1998.
Sweden has scored 25 more points than its opponents in Olympic play, tops in the field. The United States has outscored opponents by six.
The United States registered an 80 percent shot success rate in round robin competition. Sweden finished at 87 percent in that category.