USA gets off to slow start at 2014 World Championship in China

By Terry Kolesar | March 29, 2014, 12 a.m. (ET)
March 29, 2014

USA gets off to slow start at 2014 World Men's Championship in China

(BEIJING) - China's debut as host of a world curling championship was not kind on the Americans as Pete Fenson's team lost both its games today as the 2014 World Men's Curling Championship presented by Ford of Canada got underway at Beijing Capital Gymnasium.

Fenson (Bemidji, Minn.) and teammates Shawn Rojeski (Chisholm, Minn.), Joe Polo (Duluth, Minn.), and Ryan Brunt (Portage, Wis.) lost to both the Czech Republic (1-0) and Sweden (2-0) to quickly fall into an 0-2 hole to start off the round robin.

"We're struggling with the ice a hair. It's really sensitive to releases and the guys are just having trouble getting the rocks in the right spots," said Fenson, who is competing in his eighth world championship for the U.S. "So we just need to concentrate on throwing the rock good and making some nice shots and then the winning usually takes care of itself."

In this afternoon's game against the Czech Republic's Jiri Snitil, two key three-enders gave the Czechs the upper hand. With the game tied 7-7 in the 10th end, Fenson wrecked on a guard with his final stone of the game and Snitil did not have to throw a game winner. In tonight's outing, the U.S. lost on the last rock to Sweden's Oskar Eriksson rink, 8-6, despite getting a three-point steal to start the game and outshooting their opponent narrowly, 81 percent to 79.

USA used Fenson's final stone in the first end to guard its big steal. Eriksson attempted an in-off shot to promote his first skip stone into scoring position but didn't get enough movement on the stone and the U.S. was spotted three points. In the second end, Sweden countered by making an open hit for two points to cut into the American lead. 

After a nice double takeout from Eriksson with his final stone in the third, Fenson was forced to draw for a single point to maintain a 4-2 lead. The U.S. returned the favor in the fourth as Eriksson stared down three U.S. stones as he got in the hack to deliver the final stone. Sweden would convert a soft-weight hit-and-roll to score a single.

Sweden tied the game in the fifth after getting stones buried in the four-foot behind cover due to a miscue with the first vice skip stone. Fenson's last-ditch attempt to save the end did not go as planned and the game was tied at the halfway mark.

After the sixth was blanked, Sweden stole another single in the seventh to take the team's first lead of the game, 5-4. USA countered with a perfect tap-back to score two points in the eighth and take back the lead. A missed takeout by the U.S. in the ninth end allowed Sweden to secure a critical late-game deuce. 

Sweden got a stone buried behind a corner guard midway through the 10th end that sat as shot stone for the entire end. Fenson used his first stone to play a tap-back that left the U.S. an inch shy of having the game-tying rock. Sweden then used its final stone of the game to guard against another tap attempt. That left Fenson to try a raise takeout for a single, maybe two points for the win, but the shot didn't leave the U.S. stone in scoring position and Sweden walked away with the team's second victory of the day.

"I think it was for the tie but just the way that they lined up, I'm not sure we had the two. It felt good. I threw it kind of hard and I thought I threw it nice and clean but needed to hit it a half an inch higher," Fenson said about his final shot. 

The other option with the final stone was a draw on the opposite side of the sheet that hadn't been played. "The draw was tougher as we would have needed it to over-curl quite a bit. We would get way out in the bushes with some new ice and we just weren't sure of the speed so there were more variables with the draw. If I hit this one just a hair higher, we score and take our chances to get two," Fenson said.

The U.S. has a light competition day tomorrow with just one game on tap in the afternoon against Russia (1-1). The 12 competing teams are playing an 11-game round robin. The top four teams will advance to Friday's Page playoffs with the chance to go for the gold. The U.S. men's program has not won a world championship gold since 1978.

USA line scores
*Sweden 020 110 102 1 - 8 
USA 301 000 020 0 - 6

*USA 100 202 002 0 - 7 
Czech Rep. 001 030 030 2 - 9 

Draw 2 scores: Norway 9, Japan 5; Canada 6, Denmark 3; Germany 9, Russia 5; Sweden 8, USA 6

Draw 1 scores: Russia 8, Switzerland 7; Czech Republic 9, USA 7; Germany 11, China 5; Sweden 8, Scotland 4

Germany 2-0
Sweden 2-0
Canada 1-0
Czech Republic 1-0
Norway 1-0
Russia 1-1
China 0-1
Denmark 0-1
Japan 0-1
Scotland 0-1
Switzerland 0-1
USA 0-2

Two USA round robin games will be streamed live via NBC Universal Sports at and also at In addition, the semifinal and medal games will be streamed on Universal. All of these games will also air TV on tape delay on Universal Sports (check your local cable listings). In addition, selected live coverage of the 2014 World Championship events will be available via the World Curling Federation's YouTube Channel at

Here is a look at Team USA's round robin schedule (all times listed as CST, China Standard Time):
* Sunday, March 30: USA v. Russia, 2 p.m.
* Monday, March 31: USA v. Japan, 9 a.m.; USA v. Germany, 2 p.m.
* Tuesday, April 1: USA v. Scotland, 9 a.m.; USA v. Canada, 2 p.m.*
* Wednesday, April 2: USA v. China, 2 p.m.*; 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*
* Sunday, April 6: Bronze-medal game, 10 a.m.*; Gold-medal game, 3 p.m.*
*TV & webstreamed on NBC Universal Sports 

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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.