Matthew Thums reacts as he competes in the wheelchair curling round robin match against Switzerland during the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on March 9, 2022 in Beijing, China.
There were no two ways about it — the U.S. wheelchair curling team had to go out and put two wins on the board Wednesday to keep its hopes alive of advancing to the playoffs at the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.
And that’s exactly what the Americans did, topping Switzerland 8-5 and Latvia 8-7 at the National Aquatics Centre to even their round robin record at 4-4. That puts them in a tie for fifth place, one game back of the fourth and final playoff spot. For skip Matt Thums, it was just what the doctor ordered.
“Everybody executed today. It was a great team effort,” said Thums following the team’s win over Latvia. “First two games in a row that everybody executed from the first end to the last end. Couldn’t be prouder of my team, it’s a great day.”
The U.S, day began with an afternoon tilt with Switzerland, and Team USA was able to put points on the board early. After scoring a single in the opening frame, the U.S. was able to steal three in the second. That lead would evaporate as Switzerland would tie the game in the seventh end, but that gave hammer to the U.S. in the final end, where they scored three to secure the win.
“Overall, the game went really well,” said U.S. lead Oyuna Uranchimeg after the Switzerland game. “We were leading quite a bit and in the middle came down in the points a little bit but we were able to come back strong in the last end. All of us were feeling really great about this win — we needed this.”
The U.S. doubled the fun in an evening match with Latvia, who were directly in front of the U.S. in the round robin standings. Latvia opened a 1-0 lead, but the U.S. had three multiple-point ends, including a four in the fourth. Latvia would respond with three in the fifth, but only managed to score singles the rest of the way.
“We set it up well, scored big and had a few misses from the opposition,” said Thums following the Latvia win. “We capitalized on that. It helps and you dictate the game. In the fifth end, Latvia put the pressure on and had a lot of stones in the middle. So we had to play that pretty solid.”
The situation remains the same for the U.S. — keep winning. The U.S. concludes round robin play with matches against 6-2 Sweden and 4-4 South Korea. The U.S., South Korea and Latvia are all tied at 4-4, part of a tight race in the middle of the table for the final playoff spots. While there is much out of Team USA’s control, what they have to do is pretty simple.
“We have two games tomorrow, they are must-wins,” said Thums. “One game at a time now.”
Want to follow Team USA athletes during the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022? Visit TeamUSA.org/Beijing-2022-Paralympic-Games to view the competition schedule, medal table and results.