By Blythe Lawrence | Sept. 16, 2018, 12:01 p.m. (ET)
Korey Dropkin and Sarah Anderson watch on in the mixed doubles curling semifinals at the Winter Games NZ on Aug. 27, 2015 in Naseby, New Zealand.

 

U.S. teams in men’s, women’s and mixed doubles opened the inaugural four-leg Curling World Cup in Suzhou, China, this past week, with the mixed doubles team of Sarah Anderson and Korey Dropkin advancing to the final.

There was no stopping the Canadians, who swept all three titles in an undisputed triumph for Team USA’s neighbors to the north.

Anderson and Dropkin were perfect in the double round-robin competition. The young U.S. pair, both of whom are 2012 Youth Olympians, blasted out of the gate with a huge 10-1 victory over South Korea on Wednesday and remained undefeated in its next five matches to reach the final. The 23-year-olds’ wins included scores of 9-2 against China, 10-4 to Olympic silver medalists Martin Rios and Jenny Perret of Switzerland, a huge 18-4 over Korea, another 9-2 over China and a close 5-4 against Switzerland.

In the final against Canada’s Laura Walker and Kirk Muyres, the Americans led 3-2 after four of the eight ends, but Canada surged into the lead in the fifth end with three points. The U.S. was forced to play risky the rest of the way, including attempting a double takeout at the end, but couldn’t score again. Walker ended it with a double takeout of her own and she and Muyres claimed the 7-3 victory.

“We don’t regret that call. You live and you learn and I think it was a decent call on our part,” Dropkin said.

“We feel really good about our week,” Anderson added. “We might not have come out with the W in the end, but I think we’re really happy with how we played. We just needed a couple more shots. It just came down to execution and we missed a few shots on the wrong side.”

The U.S. men’s team, composed of 2018 national champions Rich Ruohonen and Greg Persinger, plus Kroy Nernberger and Sean Beighton, defeated Sweden on Wednesday and edged past China the next day before losing to Norway and dropping a 9-8 heartbreaker to Sweden. The Americans ended the tournament with a 5-3 loss to China and a 9-3 defeat by Norway, finishing 2-4.

After opening their tournament by beating Korea 8-6 and following up with an 8-3 win over Russia, the American women’s team of 2018 Olympians Nina Roth, Tabitha Peterson, Becca Hamilton and Aileen Geving — lost 9-1 to eventual winner Canada. A second win over Korea was followed by a loss to Russia and finally an 8-2 defeat by Canada to finish 3-3.

Suzhou is the first of four cities that will each host five days of World Cup action before the Grand Final in Beijing on May 8-12. Omaha, Nebraska, will host the next stage on  Dec. 5-9, followed by Jonkoping, Sweden, Jan. 30-Feb. 3.

The top-ranking team from each stage earns a place in the Grand Final alongside host China, while World Cup points and wild cards decided by the World Curling Federation Board will determine the other teams that will complete the Beijing lineup.

Blythe Lawrence is a journalist based in Seattle. She has covered two Olympic Games and is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.