Russia holds off late rally from Team USA

By Terry Kolesar | March 10, 2014, 12 a.m. (ET)
March 10, 2014

Russia uses last stone to hold off Americans at 2014 Paralympic Winter Games

(SOCHI, RUSSIA) - It was a valiant effort right down to the final stone but Patrick McDonald and the American team could not find its way into the win column today against host Russia at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.

"It was tough fought, but we were there. We weren't out of it. Even in the last end, they had a few key misses," McDonald said after the loss. 

The hot-shooting Andrey Smirnov rink improved to 4-1 for a share of first place after surviving the final end and defeating McDonald and teammates Jimmy Joseph (New Hartford, N.Y.), Penny Greely (Green Bay, Wis.), David Palmer (Mashpee, Mass.), and Meghan Lino (East Falmouth, Mass.), 6-5, this afternoon at the Ice Cube Curling Center. 

"We put the hammer down and they got a little shook up out there. Just a little more ice on Pat's last one there had we tucked it under and we could have made it a little bit harder for them," Joseph said about the finish of the game. "I got goosebumps from that. I'm so ready for tomorrow. They made great shots. You gotta give them credit, they shot really well." 

While the scoreboard does not reflect it, the U.S. battled in every end but still struggled with rock placement and reading the weights needed to fully execute shots. 

"We struggled setting up the ends today and getting rocks in play. That's where they got us in multiples," McDonald said. "We just couldn't get the first part of it going. Then we did the best we could. We had some ends where we played really, really well but then there were some ends where we had the right shots set up, but we had some key mistakes."

The loss drops the Americans to 1-4 in the nine-game round robin standings. "We need to win the rest of the games basically," said Joseph, who is competing in his third Paralympic Games. "We've had a little struggling issues with the team so we're rotating players. We're just trying to climb the ladder. It's a big step, but however it turns out I'm still proud to represent the USA. I'm not saying we're giving up, I feel strongly about it. We'll come back strong tomorrow. Last year China had a 5-4 record and won bronze so it can be done."

With four games left in the round robin, the U.S. team cannot afford another loss to keep the playoff hopes alive.

"I think there are going to be a whole lot of teams in that tiebreaker position ... and I plan on being in it," McDonald said. "I'm still not worried. Until someone comes up to me and says 'We didn't make it,' we'll concentrate and keep moving forward."
The U.S. struggled early on in the match, giving up steals to fall into a deficit. The U.S. attempted a raise to try to score a single point in the first end but didn't make enough contact with their stone in the top of the house to move it into scoring position and Russia was spotted two points.

After McDonald missed a takeout with his first stone of the second end, Smirnov drew around the corner guard to place a stone in the back of the eight foot. McDonald tried to draw down to it but it was a little heavy, made contact with a Russian stone and caromed off into second count as Russia took a 3-0 lead.

Another shaky end resulted in the U.S. finally getting on the scoreboard as McDonald had to convert a double takeout of two stones nearly welded together near the button to preserve a point.

Joseph delivered a nice the hit and roll to leave his second vice skip stone behind guards in the fourth end. That set up a competition of which team could draw behind the guards to the button and, in turn, convert takeouts of their opponents' stones. Russia had the last word - and stone - on the subject, as they converted a hit for two points (potentially three).

The U.S. had a chance to score two points in the fifth end but could not capitalize when McDonald's attempt to draw a second counter into the house resulted in the stone sailing through the rings. The U.S. was then forced to make a takeout to again safeguard a point. Russia had a chance to close the door on the Americans in the sixth end but their draw for two points came up a foot short of the rings. 

In the seventh end, the U.S. finally got some stones in the house to work with but Russia got one snuggled up in between and had shot rock. Joseph used his final vice skip stone to try to draw around the center guard but his stone sunk deep into the back of the house and Russia chipped it out with the next stone to sit two. Russia capitalized on a miss by McDonald and placed a third counter in. The U.S. would hold on to score a point when McDonald's final draw fortuitously rubbed on another stone in the house and spun onto the button.

In the final end, Team USA got multiple stones in the rings to put the pressure on Russia for the first time all game. Joseph placed two stones in the rings after two key misses by the Russians. With the U.S. counting three, Russia again missed the takeout. As the end unfurled, McDonald used the final American stone to place a third counter again in the rings. However, it was left wide open for Smirnov to remove as they held on for the win. 

"It was a tough loss today, I'm not going to lie. It is tough when you're the one out there not executing. When you have relatively easy shots and you don't execute ... and it's the last two stones, it's tough," McDonald said after the loss. 

Canada's win streak ended at four as Norway came storming back to steal the final two ends and take the victory away, 8-6. The loss puts Russia into a tie for first place with the Canadians at 4-1. Great Britain stole its way to a 12-2 win over Slovakia, who had been undefeated coming into today's game. Those two teams are now tied at 3-1 for a share of third place. China moved up to 3-2 with an 11-2 victory over Korea in another game highlighted with big ends being stolen. 

The Americans return to the ice tomorrow afternoon with a matchup with Finland (0-4).

Live scores and standings can be found at Follow the action at Twitter as well and use hashtag #2014Paralympics. 

USA line score:
Russia 210 201 00 - 6 
*USA 001 010 12 - 5 
*last stone in first end

Draw 6 results: Great Britain 12, Slovakia 2; China 11, Korea 2; Norway 8, Canada 6 (extra end); Russia 6, USA 5

Canada 4-1
Russia 4-1
Great Britain 3-1
Slovakia 3-1 
China 3-2
Norway 3-2
Sweden 1-3
Korea 1-4
USA 1-4
Finland 0-4

NBC is airing 50 hours of television coverage from the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, including two wheelchair curling matches. The USA-China game on Wednesday will air live on NBC Sports Network. In addition, the gold-medal game will be featured on tape delay (6:30 p.m. ET) on March 15. 2006 Olympic bronze medalist and 2014 national champion Pete Fenson (Bemidji, Minn.) is part of the on-air team for NBC's coverage of the wheelchair curling competition. All wheelchair curling games will be streamed live at Learn more about NBC's coverage here, 

Here is a look at Team USA's round robin schedule:
Tuesday, March 11: USA v. Finland, 3:30 p.m.
Wednesday, March 12: USA v. China, 9:30 a.m.; USA v. Sweden, 3:30 p.m.
Thursday, March 13: USA v. Great Britain, 9:30 a.m.
Friday, March 14: Tiebreaker games, if needed
Saturday, March 15: Semifinals, 9:30 a.m.; gold- and bronze-medal games, 3:30 p.m.

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


For more information: Terry Kolesar, press officer, Team USA,, +1-719-207-5083 (RUS mobile) or 608-338-9900 (U.S. mobile).