Congratulations And So Long To Our Favorite Italian Curling Duo
11:31 AM EST on February 8, 2022
Going undefeated in your first ten matches at the Olympics only matters if the streak stays intact to the end, and the Italian mixed doubles curling duo of Stefania Constantini and Amos Mosaner refused to falter in the biggest moment of their careers. At a tournament where every other pair picked up at minimum four losses, Stefania and Amos ran the table to go 11-0, reaching perfection on Tuesday with a definitive 8-5 win in the gold medal match over Norway.
Representing a country with very little curling tradition and zero previous Olympic medals, the pair perhaps showed a bit of nerves in the first end against the reigning bronze medalists. But after Norway stole the game's first two points in the opening end, it was all Italy, as Stefania and Amos got into a rhythm and executed flawlessly to soundly outscore the Norwegians the rest of the way.
It's well-established at this point that I am a curling novice, but the dynamic of this Italy group was instantly appealing and easy to root for. Mosaner, a 26-year-old who played on the men's team that finished ninth in Pyeongchang, is very tall and very strong, and particularly in this gold medal game, he brought an incredible consistency to the middle shots that forced his opponents to attempt tricky, difficult plays. But the undeniable star of this pair is Constantini, a 22-year-old whose confidence and abilities do not in any way line up with her lack of experience. As the thrower of the final rock for Italy, she was regularly dropped into nerve-wracking, high-stakes situations but always rose to the occasion to be the hero.
The quiet, empty, intimate aesthetics of curling lend themselves better to identification with the athletes than perhaps any other sport. There is no equipment to hide under, no pounding music to overwhelm anyone's voices, and in mixed doubles, there are only four people to focus on in the entire game. Even when there's a language barrier, the long shots of concentrated strategy sessions tell the players' internal stories—their furrowed brows, their checking and rechecking of stone positions, the cracks in their voices. The viewer is a fly on the wall in a sport built more on communication and strategy than athleticism, and it does not take long at all to feel close to your favorites. Constantini's intensity and magnetism—the way she looks like a freshman among seniors but never shows any doubt on her face—were built for TV, and the presence of Mosaner, powerful without ever overshadowing, completes what was not just the best, but also the most compelling team of this Olympics.
After a tense and close first three ends that saw Italy take a 3-2 lead, the eventual winners asserted their dominance in the fourth with a backbreaking steal of three points. Constantini, as she's done throughout the tournament, threw on her last turn with deadly accuracy, placing the stone on the button to essentially deny Norway any chance at points. And then, in a stark contrast, Kristin Skaslien couldn't find the right angle as she attempted to at least mitigate the damage, gifting the Italians a 6-2 advantage and allowing them the privilege of playing safe and conservative the rest of the way. (Watch the drama of these two shots here.)
A couple of points scored by Norway in the seventh at least prevented the game from being over early, and at the very end, Constantini was left with one last shot that, if she completely screwed it up, would send the game to extras.
But obviously she didn't screw it up. She's Stefania freaking Constantini, for god's sake.
The smiles and celebrations were lovely, and absolutely justified the decisions of several Defector writers to wake up early and watch this live. But it also, at least to me, feels somewhat bittersweet. While Amos has more do with the men's side, Italy's women's team isn't at the Olympics, so this match was it for Stefania, whose poise and greatness I enjoyed for just a mere handful of days. Realistically, unless I decide to go full hardcore and seek out some pretty obscure tournaments, it'll be four years until I think about her again, if I do at all. But on the bright side, the next Games will be in Italy, and even in 2026 she might only just be hitting her prime.