USA finishes 10th in Beijing

By Terry Kolesar | April 03, 2014, 12 a.m. (ET)
April 3, 2014

USA finishes 10th at 2014 World Men's Championship in Beijing

(BEIJING) - Season-long preparation with countless numbers of rocks thrown did not culminate in the ending Pete Fenson and the U.S. men envisioned when they arrived in China more than a week ago to start the 2014 World Men's Curling Championship presented by Ford of Canada. 

Fenson (Bemidji, Minn.) and his team of Shawn Rojeski (Chisholm, Minn.), Joe Polo (Duluth, Minn.), Ryan Brunt (Portage, Wis.), and Jared Zezel (Hibbing, Minn.) lost to Switzerland's Peter de Cruz rink tonight, 6-5, to wrap up the championship with a 3-8 record.

"Without picking out one particular component of why things didn't go well, we started the season prepping the year for great success. We didn't have a great Tour season but we were prepping hard and getting ready for the Trials. We played good at the Trials and things kind of went stale and we lost. We just kept our heads down and kept going," Fenson said. "We didn't really waiver. We win the Nationals, we're playing great there, and we were excited about coming in here and having a shot at this thing again. We worked so hard to get back and I don't feel like it is ending where we want it." 

The team's final record places the Americans in 10th place in the field of 12 teams. 

"We were in a good spot mentally and physically throwing the rock and get here and struggle the first day. I don't want to call it a fluke, but we lose a tough one (to Denmark) and then we play Oskar (Eriksson of Sweden) and they played great so we're starting off 0-2," Fenson said about the team's rough start to the tournament.  "We tried hard to figure out the ice and what we could do to concentrate on the positives. We tried to play every game as well as we could and hang as many w's on the board as we can and hope it's enough at the end. We had three or four last-rock games that we lost, maybe more than that."

The win places Switzerland (7-4) directly into the Page 3-4 playoff. Sweden (7-4) defeated China, 6-5, and will play Japan (7-4) in a tiebreaker match at 9 a.m. tomorrow for the final playoff spot.  

After the first two ends were blanked, Switzerland finally got the deuce set up as 22-year-old Benoit Schwarz, who throws last stones, drew into the rings to take an early 2-0 lead. 

The U.S. used Rojeski's second vice skip stone to draw around a center guard to seemingly set up a deuce in the fourth end until Fenson's guard over-curled and exposed the stone. Switzerland removed it and had three stones in the house so the U.S. was forced to draw for a single point.

The U.S. would get that point back in the fifth end after Schwarz's first draw into the house rubbed on the center guard. Fenson found the right path to tuck a stone behind the guard and when Schwarz attempted an angle runback, he didn't make contact with the American stone and the game was tied 2-2. 

The turning point of the game came in the sixth end as the U.S. team struggled with the ice to open the second half. Both of Rojeski's draw attempts came up short of the paint and the Americans quickly were in a precarious position with three Swiss stones in scoring position. After Fenson's soft-weight raise attempt opened up a port up the centerline, Switzerland dropped another stone in the top of the house. This clogged the path to the four-foot thicker than a Bemidji beaver dam. Fenson used his final stone to run back the stone Schwarz had just placed in hopes of spinning out the Swiss stones in the four-foot to limit the scoring. Switzerland eventually cashed in for three points to take a 5-2 advantage.

The U.S. tried several times to set up a deuce in the seventh end but Switzerland met them stone for stone. Fenson needed to make a soft tap to earn the two points but his other stone got pushed out of scoring position as a casualty of the takeout. 

The U.S. finally got a deuce set up in the ninth end as they used a corner guard to their advantage with Rojeski's second stone. Trailing 7-5, the U.S. got the double steal set up and forced the young Swiss skip to make his final shot and put his team into the playoffs. 

"Joe was number one at second again. He's just unbelievable year after year," Fenson said about Polo's finish as the top-rated second with an 85 percent shooting performance for 11 games. "We're lucky that he sticks around and plays with us as he's just been the best ever year we've played with him. The rest of us struggled with a variety of things. We were all working to fix them with Derek and Al. We were all working together to clean things up ... but our performance was spotty."

Norway's Thomas Ulsrud (10-1) and Canada's Kevin Koe will square off in the Page 1-2 playoff on Saturday morning with the winner advancing to Sunday's final. The losing side will play the winner of the Page 3-4 playoff on Friday night between Switzerland and either Sweden or Japan in a single semifinal match on Saturday afternoon. In addition to the World Curling TV coverage, most of the playoff games will be aired either on NBC Universal Sports on TV or live on their webstream. Visit for the complete schedule.

USA line score:
*Switzerland 002 003 020 1 - 6
USA 000 110 102 0 - 5 
*last rock in first end

Draw 17 scores: Germany 10, Scotland 3; Czech Republic 10, Russia 6; Sweden 6, China 5; Switzerland 6, USA 5

Draw 16 scores: Czech Republic 8, Denmark 7; China 7, Japan 4; Canada 7, Scotland 5; Norway 7, Switzerland 6 (extra end)

Draw 15 scores: Canada 11, Germany 5; Sweden 11, Japan 4; Norway 6, USA 4; Russia 6, Denmark 4

Final round robin standings:
1. Norway 10-1**
2. Canada 8-3**
3. Switzerland 7-4*
4. Japan 7-4x
4. Sweden 7-4x
6. China 6-5
7. Czech Republic 6-5
8. Germany 5-6
9. Scotland 3-8
10. USA 3-8
11. Russia 2-9
12. Denmark 2-9
**qualified for Page 1-2 playoffs
*qualified for Page 3-4 game
x To play tiebreaker

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.


For more information: Terry Kolesar, press officer, Team USA,, 608-338-9900.