Greg Persinger’s team needed a perfect run to finish off round-robin play and advance at the World Men’s Curling Championship.
The U.S. men’s curling team did exactly that at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
Persinger’s squad defeated Switzerland 5-3 on Friday night for its fifth consecutive victory, earning the sixth and final spot in the playoff round of the tournament.
When it was over, Rich Ruohonen put his entire hand up in the air, shouting, “Five in a row!” as spectators chanted, “U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!”
“That was one of our best games, top to bottom,” Ruohonen said. “If we play like that, we’ve got a chance.”
The U.S. (6-6) faces defending world champion Canada (9-3) in the playoff round Saturday morning. The U.S. beat Canada, 6-5, in the round robin for its first worlds win over the curling powerhouse in 11 years.
“They’re going to be gunning for us,” Ruohonen said.
The semifinals are later Saturday and the medal round is Sunday.
Persinger is skip of the national championship team that also includes Ruohonen, Philip Tilker, Colin Hufman and Chris Plys.
Once Korea defeated Russia 9-4 Friday night, the U.S. and Switzerland wound up battling for the final playoff spot. The U.S. scored two in the second end, then added single points in the fifth, eighth and ninth ends. A point was awarded in the ninth end by a fraction of an inch in a measurement of the U.S. and Swiss stones.
Switzerland (6-6) was left with trying to score three points in the 10th, and final, end. It scored one point.
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.