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Sweden Wins Gold, South Korea's 'Garlic Girls' Win Silver Medal In Curling

Yeong Mi Kim of South Korea delivers a stone during the women's gold medal match between Sweden and Korea. Her beloved team won silver.
Ronald Martinez
Getty Images
Yeong Mi Kim of South Korea delivers a stone during the women's gold medal match between Sweden and Korea. Her beloved team won silver.

In a triumph over South Korea's much-loved "Garlic Girls," the Swedish women's curling team won a gold medal.

The game was one of Swedish vengeance. Nearly every time South Korea put a stone in a promising position, Sweden deftly took it out. By the fifth round, Sweden was up 4-1. Their tactics kept up, and by the eighth round, the team was up 7-3.

The Garlic Girls, affectionately nicknamed for their garlic-producing home county, were between a stone and a hard place by the ninth round. The Swedes scored another point, lengthening their lead over South Korea by five points. With one end remaining, the Garlic Girls talked among themselves and conceded the gold medal to Sweden. Both teams exchanged enthusiastic handshakes and pats on the back, among cheers throughout the Gangneung arena.

It was incredible end to South Korea's highly-watched arch in a sport that is still unfamiliar to most South Koreans. The nation's first women's Olympic curling team debuted in just 2014 in Sochi.

Unlike South Korea, Sweden has had a solid presence in women's curling. The women's curling team took gold in both 2006 and 2010, and silver in 2014.

The Garlic Girls all hail from the small town of Uiseong, where about half of its residents are farmers. Its mayor decided more than a decade ago to use government funds to build a curling center in hopes of becoming a destination for curlers.

The team shares the same surname, Kim; two are sisters. They also share nicknames rooted in food: Captain Eun Jung Kim is "Yogurt," and her teammates are "Pancake," "Steak," "Cho-Cho" and "Sunny," for sunny side-up eggs.

The Swedish team was led by captain Anna Hasselborg in her very first Olympic appearance, with solid performances Sara McManus, Agnes Knochenhauer, Sofia Mabergs and Jennie Waahlin.

The Swedish men's team took silver in Pyeongchang, after a stunning upset by the U.S. which earned gold. After the medal ceremony, the American men inspected their hard-earned bounty and realized that all but one of them had been given the gold medal for "women's curling."

The Swedish women will, presumably, be quite happy to take those off their hands.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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