Russians claim curling bronze after rare tumble

From ESPN - February 12, 2018

GANGNEUNG, South Korea -- Despite a highly unusual tumble on the ice, a team of Russian athletes roared back to win the bronze medal in mixed doubles curling by beating Norway 8-4 on Tuesday.

A tearful Anastasia Bryzgalova leaped into her coach's arms after her team's victory, which earned the Russians the first Olympic medal in mixed doubles curling. The game, which is a faster, more energetic offshoot of standard single-gender curling, is making its Olympic debut at the Pyeongchang Games.

Both the Russians and Norwegian teams are couples; Bryzgalova is married to teammate Aleksandr Krushelnitckii, and Norway's Kristin Skaslien is dating teammate Magnus Nedregotten. Bryzgalova said she and her husband drew strength from their relationship, particularly after a tough loss to Switzerland on Monday.

"It's very important that we are family," she said through a translator. "That was very important to survive yesterday's loss just to come out here today and to make the match that we can be proud about. The fact that we are family helped us a lot."

The most dramatic moment of the game came in the third end, or round. Bryzgalova was shuffling backward while strategizing with Krushelnitckii when she stumbled over a stone she did not realize was behind her. For a second, it seemed as if she would recover her footing, but seconds later, her legs went flying out from under her and she crashed hard onto her backside.

It is very rare for a curler to fall in professional curling, and the spill drew gasps from the stunned crowd.

Curlers wear special shoes to help them maneuver across the ice. On one foot, they wear what's known as a "gripper," which has a rubbery bottom that helps them grip the ice. The other shoe is known as a "slider" -- it has a very slippery Teflon sole that helps the curlers glide.


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