South Korea’s women’s curling team has earned an endearing nickname and become one of the most memorable aspects of the host nation’s 2018 Winter Olympics experience. Nicknamed the Garlic Girls, teammates Kim Kyong-ae, Kim Eun-jung, Kim Yong-mi and Kim Cho-hi all share the last name, but only Kyong-ae and Eunoyong are actual sisters.
The Garlic Girls gained enough prominence in South Korea this month that fans from their home county crowded into a local high school gym to watch them compete in the gold medal match. Reportedly, their coach Kim Eun-jung confiscated the athletes’ cellphones before the gold medal match to prevent any distractions.
Unfortunately, Sweden saw Korea’s storybook ending and swooped in to complete their own fairytale finish.
Via Associated Press:
Sweden took control of the match by stealing a point in back-to-back ends — the fourth and the fifth — even though Korea had the last-rock advantage known as the hammer. After Korea mustered just one point in the sixth, Hasselborg delivered a takeout on her final rock of the seventh to score three points and open a 7-2 lead.
The Koreans picked up one in the eighth, but they couldn’t keep the Swedes from scoring in the ninth. Kim shook hands to concede defeat, then took off her iconic owlish glasses and wiped tears away from her eyes.
The curling foursome fell short of the gold in Sunday’s curling finale to Sweden, but it doesn’t take away what made the ‘Garlic Girls’ resonate–their improbable run. Prior to 2014, South Korea had never qualified for the Olympics curling field.
The Garlic Girls were more elated with silver than disappointed about Sunday’s result.
“It is the first medal” for Korea, skip Kim Eun-jung said. “We have been through a lot, so that we could blaze a trail.”
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