Team Persinger beat the house on Saturday night in Las Vegas.
Facing Japan on the opening night of the first world championship to be hosted in Vegas, Greg Persinger’s rink worked overtime in front of a home crowd to win its opening match at the World Men’s Curling Championship in Orleans Arena.
When Persinger’s final throw into the house with the last stone of the 11th end clinched a 6-5 victory, chants of “U-S-A, U-S-A” rolled down from the seating area. The match took more than three hours to complete with neither team ever holding a lead of more than two points.
The U.S. faces the Netherlands and South Korea on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. EDT (8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Pacific time).
After falling behind 2-0 in the opening end, the U.S. tied the match with two points in the third end, then added points in the fourth and sixth ends. Japan tied it 4-4 with single points in the seventh and eighth ends.
Persinger’s throw in the ninth end gave the U.S. a one-point edge, but Japan’s Go Aoki’s perfect throw — a raise of a corner guard to the button — with the last stone in the 10th end tied the match at 5-5 and sent it to an extra end.
The U.S. is one of 13 nations in the tournament, which consists of pool play matches until April 6. The top six teams advance to the qualification round and playoffs on April 7.
Persinger’s team also includes Philip Tilker, Colin Hufman, Rich Ruohonen and 2010 Olympian Chris Plys as fifth. Phill Drobnick, a two-time Olympian, is coach.
Members of the John Shuster rink, which defeated Sweden to win the gold medal at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, delivered the ceremonial first stone at the start of the tournament Saturday.
Paul D. Bowker has been writing about Olympic sports since 1996, when he was an assistant bureau chief in Atlanta. He is sports editor of the Cape Cod Times and a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.