Italy beats Norway to win Olympic gold in mixed doubles curling

BEIJING -- Italy completed a near-perfect Olympics in mixed doubles curling with an 8-5 victory over Norway on Tuesday to win the gold medal.

The win at the Ice Cube capped a dominant performance for Amos Mosaner and Stefania Constantini, who were undefeated in the round-robin and then advanced to the gold-medal match with an 8-1 victory over Sweden.

Kristin Skaslien and Magnus Nedregotten will take a silver medal back to Norway four years after claiming bronze at the Pyeongchang Games.

Sweden beat Britain 9-3 earlier Tuesday for the bronze medal in a matchup of longtime curling powerhouses. Norway is also a regular on the Olympic podium, earning five medals in the seven Winter Games since the sport returned to the program in 1998.

And then there's Italy.

The southern European nation had no tradition to speak of in the sport it referred to as "bocce on ice" before being granted an obligatory spot in the 2006 Torino Olympics as the host. Even now, Italian officials say, there are only three curling clubs and about 400 participants in the entire country.

But Mosaner and Constantini not only earned the first Olympic curling medal in Italian history but did it with an ease rarely seen in a sport in which the outcome can turn on one bad throw of the rock.

Even more: With 22-year-old Constantini and her 26-year-old partner, the Italians have a likely medal favorite when they host the next Winter Games in Milan-Cortina. (A delegation from the ‎2026 host cities was at the Ice Cube on Tuesday, standing to cheer when Constantini completed a double takeout with her final stone to seal the victory.)

The Norwegians were the reigning bronze medalists -- but with an asterisk. They lost in the third-place game in Pyeongchang but moved onto the medal stand when Russian curler Alexander Krushelnitsky failed a doping test.

So the victory over Britain in the semifinals Monday ended a two-game Olympic playoff losing streak. And when the Norwegians stole two points in the first end of the final, they put the dominant Italians in an unfamiliar position.

But Italy came back to take two points in the second end, stole one in the third even without the last-rock advantage, and then opened a 6-2 lead at the halftime break when Skaslien's final throw failed to clear a trio of red Italian stones out of the target area.

Norway could manage only one point in the fifth, and Italy matched it in the sixth before the Norwegians scored two in the seventh end to make it 7-5. But in the final end, Italy held the last-rock advantage known as the hammer.

With her last throw, Skaslien knocked out Italy's red rock and left Norway lying two. But Constantini easily knocked both yellow stones out with the hammer.

Mosaner raised his hands in celebration, then the teams fist-bumped - a pandemic-inspired substitute for the traditional post-game handshake.

The Swedish team of Almida de Val and Oskar Eriksson, one day after lasting only seven ends against Italy, picked up four points in the second end against Britain, stole three in the third and took single points in the fourth and fifth despite lacking the hammer.

Jennifer Dodds of Britain made an easy draw to collect two points in the sixth end, then partner Bruce Mouat immediately bumped fists with the Swedes to concede the match with two ends to play.

De Val and Eriksson hugged, and the handful of Swedes in the mostly empty Ice Cube broke into a cheer. It is the fifth straight time Sweden has reached the Olympic curling podium, including a gold in women's and a silver in men's four years ago in Pyeongchang.