U.S. wheelchair curlers win second straight at Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games
Patrick McDonald, the skip for the 2014 U.S. Paralympic Wheelchair Curling Team, helped Team USA to a win against China on Day 5 of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.
Jimmy Joseph competes against China on March 12 in Sochi, Russia.
SOCHI, Russia – Team USA has found its groove at the Ice Cube Curling Center and picked up a second consecutive win at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.
Team USA skip Patrick McDonald turned in a scorching 84 percent shooting output in a 10-2 win over China’s Haitao Wang rink this morning as the Americans fight to stay in the playoff hunt.
“As far as I know, mathematically we’re still in the tiebreaker hunt. Until someone says you’re done, I’m not worried about nothing,” McDonald said.
This morning’s win improves McDonald (Madison, Wis.) and teammates Jimmy Joseph (New Hartford, N.Y.), Penny Greely (Green Bay, Wis.), David Palmer (Mashpee, Mass.), and Meghan Lino (East Falmouth, Mass.) to 3-4 in the round robin with two games left to determine Saturday’s playoff field.
“Maybe this is the start of a new pattern for us as we’ve always come out of the gates running 5-0 and then we fizzle at the end so I’m hoping that this is a different turn and a different pattern that will bring us good luck,” said Greely, who is competing in her second Paralympic Games after winning bronze in 2004 in sitting volleyball in Athens.
USA as a team shot 66 percent, which is a big improvement from earlier in the week.
“We are playing to our ability compare to the beginning of the week. I don’t know what happened but we changed the lineup, I don’t know if that’s making anything work different, maybe it might,” said Joseph, who moved up to throw vice skip stones with Palmer throwing lead but still strategizing as vice with McDonald.
“Once we get in our groove, we know what we have to do. We are so focused right now,” said Joseph, who is competing in his third Paralympic Winter Games for USA. “The weight control is there now. We’ve had a couple misses here and there but everybody is. This was a wonderful turnout. That felt like it was basically for a medal. Every game is for a medal. I’m very happy with how we’re playing.”
In the first end, the U.S. team tested its draw weight with McDonald placing the final stone into the four-foot circle to get the Americas on the scoreboard after the teams exchanged draws and hits behind a center guard with the previous 15 rocks.
The U.S. got a stone buried in the four-foot early in the second end and spent the rest of the time protecting it to set up the single steal as Wang failed to remove it with the final shot.
China quickly had four stones in the rings, all behind the tee-line, as the third end unfolded. Joseph tried to tuck his first vice skip stone into the nest in the four-foot but it got a slight bump and sat in the open for China to remove to have five counting. Joseph’s second draw over-curled but landed in second position, well guarded to cut China’s potential scoring down. China’s vice skip Qiang Zhang followed Joseph’s draw path and placed his stone in front of the American rock to again start building a bounty of granite. McDonald’s first stone sat on the top of the four-foot in third position but his second draw landed perfectly – just touching the side of the button to finally put the U.S. in position to steal as Wang couldn’t convert the angle raise to score.
In the fourth end, China had a deuce set up with no guards but Wang missed the final takeout and the Americans stole one more point.
In contrast to the previous end, all of the action in the fifth was above the tee-line as a wall of granite built above the rings protecting a Chinese stone in the top 12-foot. China tried to open up a port to the four-foot with a takeout but ended up tapping an American stone into the eight-foot into scoring position instead of removing it. McDonald used both of his skip stones to plug the port back up, but Wang was able to make the takeout to finally get China on the scoreboard with two points.
USA had a deuce set up in the sixth end until Wang made a double takeout with his first stone. With the center guard still in play, McDonald tucked his first stone behind it in the top 12-foot ring. Wang missed the takeout and the U.S. drew into the rings to extend the lead to 6-2.
The seventh end was all USA as they took advantage of misses by the Chinese to place a fourth counter in the rings with McDonald’s first skip stone. When Wang’s draw did not cross the hogline, McDonald placed a high guard to block the path to the rings for Wang. China attempted a hit and roll to score a point but the final stone sailed through the back of the rings and USA stole four points to seal up win number three.
“Once we come together as a team and click, it all falls into place,” Greely said. “It just seems like at the start of the tournament we had some issues with ice and stones. When one or two players are off, it throws the whole team off … but in the beginning we all seemed to be off. Now it seems at the tail end here when it really counts and we need to win, we’re jiving and making our shots more. We’re really calm and excited out there and happy to be playing.”
The U.S. returns to the ice this afternoon to take on Sweden (2-4), which had the bye this morning. Canada and Russia both clinched semifinal berths today with big wins to improve to 6-1. Canada got past Korea, 10-4, while Russia defeated Great Britian, 11-2. The loss drops GB to 4-3 and into a tie with Slovakia for third place. Slovakia started the week winning its first three games but then lost the next three. The Slovakians came out strong today in defeating Norway, 11-4, to get back in the win column.
Live scores and standings can be found at http://sochi2014.curlingevents.com/paralympics.
USA line score
*USA 111 102 4x – 10
China 000 020 0x – 2
*last stone in first end