Norway more than just curling’s fashion statements

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SOCHI, Russia (AP) - Norway’s curlers are more than just fashion statements - they are Olympic gold-medal contenders, too.

And they can prove that on Thursday by beating Nordic rival and reigning world champion Sweden on day four of the men’s tournament at the Ice Cube Curling Center.

The Norwegians are most neutrals’ favorite curling team because of their flamboyant dress sense, which has included wearing flat caps, soccer socks and knee-length knickerbockers for their games in Sochi.

But they are serious about their curling - they won the silver medal in the Vancouver Games in 2010 - and the serious business in their Olympic schedule is just about to start.

Having opened with wins over the United States, Russia and Germany to be 3-0, Norway is about to run into its main rivals. First is Sweden (3-1), then come Canada, China and Britain in their next three games.

“To be fair, we have probably met the three weakest teams of the tournament, so now it begins for our part,” Norway curler Christoffer Svae said.

“We’re in a pretty good position now. But (against Sweden), we get a first real test.”

A win would leave Norway tied on 4-0 with first-place China, which is proving to be the surprise team of the tournament. The Chinese have Thursday off.

Canada recovered from back-to-back losses by beating Russia on Wednesday and next plays Denmark, which ended Sweden’s perfect start.

In the women’s tournament, the pressure is back on Britain after a loss to Canada left the world champions 1-2. The British, who play China on Thursday, have also lost to Sweden, their other big rival.

“We have started off with two of the toughest teams,” Britain skip Eve Muirhead said. “It would have been nice to get a win against one of them but at the end of the day, we are not down and out.

“We are in a good place, we are playing well. I’d be scared if we weren’t playing well at this point.”

Canada and Switzerland top the women’s standings at 3-0 and meet in the evening session. Before then, the Canadians take on Denmark and the Swiss play Sweden in the morning games.

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