2014 Sochi Olympics


Team Jacobs


Roar of the Rings: Winning shot by Brad Jacobs puts unconventional team through to Roar final

Brad Jacobs is pumped after his last rock defeated Kevin Martin Thursday (CP Images)


So Brad Jacobs is just one win away from Sochi after a brilliant final shot defeated defending Olympic champion Kevin Martin during Thursday's evening draws.

That wasn't necessarily the game story. Jacobs and Martin came into Thursday draws each at 5-0. The winner would gain automatic entry into Sunday's final at the Roar of the Rings, while the loser would have to settle for at best, a Semi-Finals berth. Martin is the Old Bear, the four-time Brier champion, Olympic gold- and silver- medallist. Jacobs is just 28, the youngest skip in the eight-team field, but the most recent Brier champ. His team is a little more unconventional: sweepers Ryan Harnden andE.J. Harnden are built more like lumberjacks than curlers, with arms more powerful than a Bryan Adams love ballad.

The team is known for being more aggressive with hits and raised rocks and getting the most out of their own rocks in play. In the third end, they made three double takeouts and made the first costly mistake in the 4th end. With the last stone, Jacobs made a very aggressive attempt at another double takeout, facing an impossible angle, and came out wide. The alternative was drawing for a single point and conceding the hammer back to Martin. To that point, neither skip had buckled, and forced the other to settle for single points.

Jacobs' miss allowed Martin to steal the one point, however, and after a blank in the 5th, Jacobs was down 3-1 at the break. After another aggressive call gave him two points in the 6th, Martin missed an easy shot for two in the 7th, coming in wide on a heavy draw (per colour commentator Russ Howard: "Martin can make this shot in his sleep") and was stuck with a single point.

That proved to be the difference. Down 4-3 and late in the game, Jacobs wanted to make the most of the hammer. Martin has been almost unbeatable with the hammer in a tie game in recent years.

But the 10th proved to fit into Jacobs' game. After Kevin Martin's first stone, there were a lot of rocks in the rings for Jacobs to work with. All he had to do was tap his own yellow stone at the top of the red four-foot ring slightly, which would knock Martin's rock far enough from the button for Jacobs to score two and the victory. All that was protecting it was the two Martin rocks, positioned nicely for a double:

jacobs shot 1 (screengrab via TSN)

The shot is risky because that guard high up along the centre line made it difficult to hit that first red rock pure. He made it, forcing Martin to position a rock close to the top yellow and making it a difficult shot. Martin didn't position it exactly where he wanted to, but Jacobs was left with this shot:

jacobs shot 2 (screengrab via TSN)

The call: hit the top yellow, bounce it off the red, and knock that onto the yellow and spill the otherred. Pretty much exactly what happened, and Jacobs took the 5-4 win.

The field gets a little bit more interesting, and, while the major story coming in was that this would be the last chance at the Olympic games for some of the game's older skips like Jeff Stoughton andGlenn Howard (neither of whom have been to an Olympics), they didn't perform up to expectations. With the exception of Martin, it's been the younger teams, those of John Morris and Mike McEwen, that have had the success. Cleaner ice? Less pressure? Perhaps it's just what happens when the margin between victory and defeat is so clean in such a tight field.

So with one more draw on Friday morning, Kevin Martin's grudge match against his former teammate John Morris picks up added significance: a win and he can avoid a tiebreaker against McEwen, if McEwen beats Kevin Koe. In the playoffs, the higher-seeded team can select the stones from any sheet on the ice, so it's in Martin's interest to win for more than just wanting to knock his former vice-skip out of the tournament.

There's no room for error out there. Jacobs was able to capitalize off of the one miss Martin made in the game. Kevin had been shooting 96% through 9 ends, flawless save for the point left on the board in the 7th. Jacobs took the point and used it to coast to the end with the hammer and set up his own shot, knowing his third Ryan Fry had been good enough all week to set up at least an attempt for two. He didn't make all his shots, but he knew he had to make that one.

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