USA falls to Russia in opening action at 2009 Women's World Championship

March 23, 2009, 11:03 a.m. (ET)
GANGNEUNG, South Korea (March 21, 2009) - It wasn't the start Debbie McCormick and Team USA were looking for after becoming the Olympic team just three weeks ago, losing to Russia 8-5, in the team's first round of action Saturday night at the 2009 Mount Titlis World Women's Curling Championship at the Gangneung International Ice Rink.

McCormick (Rio, Wis.) and teammates Allison Pottinger (Eden Prairie, Minn.), Nicole Joraanstad (Madison, Wis.), Natalie Nicholson (Bemidji, Minn.) and Tracy Sachtjen (Lodi, Wis.) controlled the first half of the game but struggled in the latter ends in the tonight's loss to the Ludmila Privivkova rink. This was the first time in five attempts at the worlds that her team has beat McCormick's squad.

"I think we got fooled on the ice a bit," said McCormick, who won the world championship in 2003 along with Pottinger. "It was a lot straighter than we were expecting."

Also factor in that the stones being used for the competition are brand new - they're from Scotland and were purchased by the Korean Curling Federation but have never been used in a championship.

"Allison's rocks always curl and they weren't, so we switched hers with Natalie's. Of the set we used tonight I'd say I like three out of eight," McCormick said in reference to the stones.

That aside, it also comes down to execution and the Americans missed key opportunities tonight.

"I missed a pretty easy shot for two. We struggled a bit with rock positioning and broom placement...the basic stuff," said McCormick, who will make her third appearance at the Olympic Winter Games in 2010.

Beginning the game without the last rock advantage, the Americans got to work right away stealing the opening end when Privivkova couldn't remove all of the U.S. rocks. Russia got the opportunity to set up a deuce in the second end when Pottinger's guard over-curled as she tried to protect the U.S. shot rock in the four-foot. This allowed Russia to go after that shot rock and gain control of the end. Privivkova, 22, needed to make a hit and stick for two but rolled out.

In the third end, Russia got the stone behind the center guard in the four-foot right away. McCormick saved the end with a double takeout with her first rock. Privivkova made the hit on the lone American rock in the 8-foot but rolled out. McCormick tried to split on a U.S. stone just off the top of the house for two but didn't make contact and ended up with one point.

The Americans had the Russians on the ropes in the fourth end until Margarita Fomina made a double takeout and rolled her shooter behind the guard to lie two. McCormick attempted a runback with her first stone but simply peeled the guard. She nearly had the double takeout with her second shot but left Russia with a takeout for three points.

The teams exchanged singles in the next two ends and it looked like the U.S. had a steal set up in the eighth when Joraanstad made a perfect hit and roll behind the center guard. But McCormick's final shot went in too deep to the back of the four-foot providing Privivkova with backing as she drew down to it for a single.

Controversy highlighted the ninth end as the two vice skips seemingly agreed that a steal of one point had occurred in Russia's favor. However, the umpire would hang two after the Russian vice skip indicated such. After a 15-minute delay to confer to the chief umpire, Russia was given the option to either play the end over or accept the agreed upon steal of a single, Pottinger said.

Trailing 7-4 heading into the final end, the American ladies weren't able to set up a big end and sit at 0-1 in the standings.

Korea's hometown team nearly pulled off the upset of 2006 Olympic gold medalist Anette Norberg but the Swedes survived two extra ends for the 10-8 win. Norberg rolled out with her takeout in the first extra end, which resulted in the rare blank extra end.

The American women return to the ice at 3 p.m. Sunday to play Canada's Jennifer Jones, the 2008 world champions. They'll face China, the runner-up last year, in the night draw.

"Tomorrow's a new day, a new game, a new championship," McCormick said. "Every game here is big."

Live scoring from the World Championship will be posted online at All times posted are local (14 hours ahead of Central Time Zone; GMT + 9 hours).

Game scores: Scotland 11, Italy 2; Canada 11, China 5; Sweden 10, Korea 8; Russia 7, USA 5

Team USA line score:
*Russia 010 301 012 0 7
USA 101 010 100 1 5
*last rock in first end

Scotland 2-0
Sweden 2-0
Canada 1-0
Denmark 1-0
Russia 1-0
Switzerland 1-0
China 0-1
Germany 0-1
Norway 0-1
USA 0-1
Korea 0-2
Italy 0-2