Team USA battles on despite record in China

By Terry Kolesar | April 01, 2014, 12 a.m. (ET)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 1, 2014

USA's struggles continue at world championship in China

(BEIJING) - Team USA's ongoing struggle to get comfortable with the rocks and ice at the Beijing Capital Gymnasium has become a dark cloud in the team's effort to make the U.S.'s first playoff appearance since 2010.

Right from the start Pete Fenson's U.S. team was chasing Kevin Koe's Canadians in a game that resulted in an 8-6 victory for Canada tonight at the 2014 World Men's Curling Championship presented by Ford of Canada. 
 
Fenson (Bemidji, Minn.) and teammates Shawn Rojeski (Chisholm, Minn.), Joe Polo (Duluth, Minn.), and Ryan Brunt (Portage, Wis.) missed out on scoring opportunities as the team suffered its fifth loss and second on the day.

"Everybody's confidence is lacking right now," said Rojeski, 41. "You can start the game thinking, we'll make a couple good shots and have everything figured out and you miss the third one and have no idea why - weight comes out good, Pete likes the throw, but we get a totally different result. We're just frustrated. We're not used to shrugging our shoulders because we don't know. It's been a frustrating week to this point."

The loss drops the Americans to 2-5, which means the team's playoff hopes are slim with four round robin games remaining. 

"We were just an average team today," Rojeski said. "Mentally coming in here, we thought we were going to get perfect ice like you most of the time get here. Right from practice we struggled with it. We struggled with carpet fibers. We struggled with sharp rocks. It has just snowballed and we have never really been comfortable with the ice or the rocks."

The U.S. team struggled with rock placement and never really challenged Canada in the loss.

"The Scotland game earlier today, even though we lost, was probably the most comfortable with both - we had a good read of the ice and the rocks were good," Rojeski said. "But this afternoon we struggled with both again and it just magnifies any little thing you do wrong and they're not going to give us any breaks. We knew we had to come out and play really well today to make it a good game. We just weren't sharp." 

After being held to a single in the first end, the U.S. had a chance to hold Canada to a single in the next end. A Fenson misfire, however, resulted in a skip's deuce after Koe tucked his first stone on the far side of the 12 foot behind a guard just hanging off of the corner of the rings. 

The U.S. used its final stone of the third end to out-draw Canada and cover the button for a single point (U.S. lost the measure for the second point). Canada also had to settle for a point in the following end as they could not use the corner guard to their advantage when their vice skip's stone came up short of the house. Koe was forced to make a hit for one while looking at two U.S. stones.

The U.S. again lost a measure in the fifth end - this one resulting in a single steal. The U.S. struggled to get ahead of the rock count right away when Brunt's lead stone stopped short of curling into the rings behind the corner guard in the sixth. Fenson eventually was forced to draw the full four-foot for a single to avoid another steal.

A missed double takeout early in the seventh end by the American team resulted in Canada setting up the deuce to extend its lead to 6-3. The U.S. had a chance to bail out on the eighth end after being unable to get a deuce set up but Fenson made a nose hit with the final stone and the Americans scored one.

Canada went back to a three-point lead after Koe drew into the four-foot for another point in the ninth end. Much like in today's morning game, the Americans found themselves trailing by three points with the last rock in the 10th end and ran out of rocks. 

"Like the early part of the week in the games where we struggled with the ice a bit, this is the hardest sheet to play on and again we struggled with it. It's almost like one side of it has a bit of a hill. Kevin (Koe) struggled with it a couple of rocks. We had missed opportunities," Rojeski said. 

The win improves Canada to 5-1 for a share of first place. "If we missed today, it wasn't by much. The rocks and ice are working themselves in, so we're getting more comfortable with it. If it keeps getting better, then I think we'll keep getting better," said Koe, who won the world title in 2010 in Cortina, Italy. "I think we can improve a fair bit, but we're in a good spot. The way we've played, 5-and-1, some people might think we're cruising, but it hasn't been that way at all. We've had to fight for all those wins, but we seem to be getting better. Hopefully the struggles early in the week are passed and we can keep playing well."

The U.S. team has two games on tap on Wednesday. In the 2 p.m. draw, the U.S. team will play Rui Liu's Chinese team (3-3). This game will be streamed live via Universal Sports http://universalsports.com/watch-live/) and the World Curling Federation (www.youtube.com/WorldCurlingTV). The game will also air on TV on tape delay at 1 p.m. ET on Universal Sports. In the night game, the U.S. will battle Denmark's Rasmus Stjerne rink (2-4).

In other competition this afternoon, Norway's Thomas Ulsrud rink finally fell from the unbeaten ranks as Germany's John Jahr won 7-6 in an extra end. Sweden got back in the win column with a 9-4 win over Denmark.

Japan made history by winning its fourth game at a world championship - the most ever for the Japanese men's program at this event. Yusuke Morozumi's team held off Russia to earn an 8-7 victory. "That's a new record and that's good for us, but I want to make a bigger record," said Kosuke Morozumi, lead for Team Japan. "This means a lot. I want our juniors to be like us and be inspired by us. (We will continue to inspire them) by winning more games."
USA line score:
Canada 020 110 201 x - 7 
*USA 101 001 010 x - 4 
*last rock in first end

Draw 10 scores: Sweden 9, Denmark 4; Canada 7, USA 4; Japan 8, Russia 7; Germany 7, Norway 6 (extra end)

Draw 9 scores: Scotland 8, USA 6; Czech Republic 5, Sweden 3; China 5, Russia 4; Switzerland 7, Germany 6 (extra end)

Draw 8 scores: Canada 10, Czech Republic 6; Switzerland 8, Japan 3; Denmark 7, Scotland 6; Norway 5, China 3

Standings:
1. Canada 5-1
1. Norway 5-1
3. Japan 4-2
3. Switzerland 4-2
5. Sweden 4-3
5. Germany 4-3
7. China 3-3
8. Denmark 2-4
8. Czech Republic 2-4
8. Scotland 2-4
11. USA 2-5
12. Russia 1-6
Here is a look at Team USA's round robin schedule (all game times listed as CST, China Standard Time):
* Wednesday, April 2: USA v. China, 2 p.m.* (live on webstream at 2 a.m. ET; on TV/Universal Sports, 1 p.m. ET tape delay); USA v. Denmark, 7 p.m.
* Thursday, April 3: USA v. Norway, 9 a.m.; USA v. Switzerland, 7 p.m.
* Friday, April 4: Tiebreaker games (9 a.m., 2 p.m.); Page playoff, 7 p.m.
* Saturday, April 5: Page playoff, 11 a.m.; 4 p.m., semifinal* (live on webstream, 4 a.m. ET; 4 p.m. ET on TV/Universal Sports)
* Sunday, April 6: Bronze-medal game, 10 a.m.* (live on webstream, 10 p.m. ET on April 5; on TV/Universal Sports, 9 a.m. ET April 6); Gold-medal game, 3 p.m.* (live on webstream, 3 a.m. ET; tape delay on TV/Universal Sports, 4 p.m. ET)
*TV & webstream information (http://universalsports.com/watch-live/ and www.youtube.com/WorldCurlingTV)

Event information links:
http://wmcc2014.curlingevents.com/
www.worldcurling.org
www.usacurl.org 

Social media:
Facebook, USA Curling: https://www.facebook.com/pages/USA-Curling/107975609011 
Facebook, event: https://www.facebook.com/WorldMensCurlingChampionship
Twitter Hashtags: #wmcc2014 #curling

USA Curling is sponsored by AtomAmpd, Nike, Brooms Up Curling Supplies, Sitrin, and The RAM Restaurant & Brewery, BalancePlus, and is partnered with Hilton HHonors, United Airlines, RJM Licensing Inc., and CurlingZone.

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For more information: Terry Kolesar, press officer, Team USA, terry.kolesar@usacurl.org, 608-338-9900.

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