USA slips to 9th place after loss to Japan

By Terry Kolesar | March 31, 2014, 12 a.m. (ET)
March 31, 2014

Japan outlasts USA at 2014 World Men's Championship in China

(BEIJING) - After a near perfect start to today's game against Japan, the U.S. men lost their draw weight in an eventual 9-5 loss to Japan 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.) took a quick lead over Japan's Yusuke Morozumi rink after stealing the first two ends but quickly cooled off in round robin play at the Beijing Capital Gymnasium.  

"We lost our draw weight and lost our confidence and didn't make many after that," said Polo, who along with Fenson and Rojeski won the bronze medal at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games. "It [the ice] was a little bit faster in one end and then slowed back down and we just couldn't get a feel for it."

Japan had to be patient to overcome its shaky start to the game. 

"That was good for us.  I think three wins is a record for Japan, a tied record, so we want one or two more.  We're confident about that," said Kosuke Morozumi, lead for Team Japan. "We were pretty good in this game and we were drawing better. We weren't worried so much at the start; in the fourth end we had a lot of chances."

The loss drops the U.S. team to 1-3 in the 11-game round robin and improves Japan to 3-1. 

"We need to forget about it and come back out and try to make as many shots as we can," Polo said. "We need to draw better. The ice has been tricky in a few places and we just need to pick up on that a little bit earlier and make more draws and we'll be fine."

A perfect raise double takeout with Rojeski's first stone placed four U.S. stones in scoring position as the game got underway. Japan was forced to draw the four-foot and was heavy, giving the U.S. a steal of two points. The U.S. worked through the lineup trying to convert an angle double takeout in the second end. Fenson finally connected with his first stone to remove both Japan counters and leave three of their own in the house. Morozumi, 29, was then light with his first stone and left the Japan rock in the top of the rings. Fenson drew around the stones in the top of house to cover the button. Morozumi followed his path but was an inch short and the U.S. stole another point.

Japan was poised to set up a deuce after a miss by Polo but Rojeski came through with a double takeout to put three U.S. stones in the house behind a corner guard. Japan drew into the house with their first vice skip stone and Rojeski narrowly missed the takeout, peeling the guard instead. Japan drew another stone into the house but it wasn't enough for second count. With Fenson's first stone, he cleared five rocks out. However, this left an empty house and Morozumi placed his first draw behind the corner guard. A miss by Fenson left Japan with a draw for two to cut into the USA lead.

Japan then tied the game with a single steal when the U.S. stone rolled out after a takeout in the fifth. In the sixth end, Fenson was forced to draw through a port into the four-foot. After a measure, Japan's stone was a hair closer to the center and Morozumi's foursome had its first lead. 

Two great shots by Polo looked to have the U.S. poised to score a deuce in the seventh end. But Japan continued to answer the U.S. shots with better rock placement and when Fenson delivered his final stone, he was staring down five Japan stones. The veteran skipper delivered with a draw to the button to tie the game at 4-4.

Both teams exchanged great shots in the eighth end with Fenson's final stone getting great sweeping from Rojeski and Polo to skinny past the stones at the top of the house to place it on the side of the button. Morozumi's final stone needed to be swept to get past those same stones but that resulted in it being a tad heavy and Brunt was able to sweep it past the tee-line out of scoring position and the Americans had a one-point lead with two ends to go. 

In the ninth end, Japan was sitting in good shape to score multiple points for most of the end. Rojeski used his first vice skip stone to remove two but Japan made a takeout to sit two once again. Rojeski's raise double takeout only moved one. Morozumi was eventually able to draw for two points to take the lead back.

Several miscues late in the 10th end opened up the doorway for Japan to steal the win. A failed runback with Rojeski's first rock coupled with a final stone that was light allowed Japan to take three points and earn their third win.

"It was a little tight and a little soft," Polo said about Fenson's final draw, which needed to reach the button to force an extra end.

In other competition this morning, Norway remains perfect at 4-0 after defeating Sweden, 6-3. Canada improved to 3-1 for a share of second place after stealing the first four ends in an eventual 9-1 victory over Russia (1-3). 
Germany fell from the unbeaten ranks after Denmark laid two four-enders on them in an eventual 9-4 win in a game that lasted just six ends. "It's been a rough start.  We knew that we'd been facing probably the strongest contestants. We had a tight game yesterday, it was rough going 0 and 3 and knowing that we need to pile on lots of wins to stay in the competition," said Denmark skip Rasmus Stjerne, who also skipped the Danes at the recent Olympic Games in Sochi. "Now we're just going to go one game at a time. Obviously the Germans were playing well. We knew they could come out strong, but we had two big scores and that settled the game pretty early."
The U.S. men return to the ice at 2 p.m. today to take on Germany (3-1). 

USA line score:
USA 210 000 110 0 - 5 
*Japan 000 211 002 3 - 9 

Draw 6 scores: Denmark 9, Germany 4; Canada 9, Russia 1; Norway 6, Sweden 3; Japan 9, USA 5

Draw 5 scores:  Norway 9, Czech Republic 5; Switzerland 6, Denmark 5; Japan 9, Scotland 4; Canada 9, China 6

1. Norway 4-0
2. Canada 3-1
2. Germany 3-1
2. Japan 3-1
5. Switzerland 2-1
6. Sweden 2-2
7. China 1-2
7. Czech Republic 1-2
9. Denmark 1-3
9. Russia 1-3
9. USA 1-3
12. Scotland 0-3

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. These games also will air on TV on tape delay on Universal Sports (check your local cable listings). In addition, selected live coverage of the 2014 World Championship events is 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):
* 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 

Event information links: 

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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.