GANGNEUNG, South Korea – Korea’s Soonseok Seo rink had its draw weight dialed in from start to finish, leading the host country to a 7-3 win over Team USA as the wheelchair curling action at the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 got underway today.
The American team of Kirk Black (San Antonio, Texas), Steve Emt (Hebron, Conn.), Justin Marshall (Evansville, Wis.), and Penny Greely (Green Bay, Wis.) struggled to learn the nuances of the ice until the latter ends of session one of the 11-game round robin at the Gangneung Curling Centre.
“We got beat up today. There’s no losing – it’s just winning and learning. We learned a lot today – about the ice, about ourselves,” said Emt, who is competing in his first Paralympics. “Korea played great today, and we struggled a little bit.”
The American team will return to the ice on Sunday with round robin games against Germany (1-0) in the afternoon and Sweden (0-0) in the evening session. This is the first Paralympics featuring 12 competing countries for wheelchair curling as previous Games had 10.
“We wanted to execute and do our best,” Black said. “We knew that for three of us it was our first Paralympics, so we wanted to get out the jitters and go out and have fun, try to relax and do what we do.”
The Americans started the game with the last-stone advantage but were unable to score until being forced into a single in the fourth end.
The U.S. had a deuce set up in the first end but Black’s first draw was light, allowing Korea to remove the lone American stone in the house to eventually blank the end. The U.S. team was in good shape to score multiple points again in the second end but a takeout attempt with Black’s first stone missed the target and inadvertently removed both of the U.S. rocks in the house. Korea drew a third stone in, forcing the Americans to throw a double takeout. One Korea stone remained in the house to give the host country the early 1-0 lead. Korea would get one more point when Black’s double takeout attempt in the third end only removed one stone.
Team USA made a critical draw, however, in the fourth end as the Americans were facing four Korean stones in scoring position. Black’s final draw floated to the back of the eight-foot to put them on the scoreboard with a single point.
Korea, which had its draw weight locked in from the start of the game, piled granite into the rings in the fifth end. With four Korean stones in scoring position, the U.S. used its final shot to draw down to the Korean stone in the four-foot for second position in hopes of cutting the scoring down. The stone, however, was half exposed and Korea chipped it out with ease to score four.
Needing some offense in a hurry, the U.S. put the corner guard up in the sixth end but struggled with draw weight and were forced into a takeout that yielded Korea another point as the American rock rolled out of scoring contention. The Americans used a nice draw with Emt’s vice skip stone to set up a deuce in the seventh end and cut into the Korean lead. The U.S. had stones in the rings and were building toward a steal in the eighth end until Korea played a perfect double takeout to end the game.
“We needed four and you need some misses by the other team and we didn’t get those,” Emt said. “Their misses actually ending up getting them in better positions sometimes – trying for a takeout and getting a double takeout, which ends the game. When you’re down that much you just have to get a little help from the other team. At that point in the game we were just trying to fine-tune anything we could to get something positive out of the defeat to help us in the next game.”
*USA 000 100 2x – 3
Korea 011 041 0x – 7
*last rock in first end
Other game scores: Canada 8, Switzerland 0; Germany 9, NPA 4; Great Britain 5, Norway 2
Round robin standings:
Great Britain 1-0
*Neutral Paralympic Athletes
TV and webstreaming:
All games are streaming live at www.nbcsports.com and on the NBC Sports app with TV coverage on the Olympic Channel and NBCSN. A complete schedule is posted at https://www.teamusa.org/US-Paralympics/Features/2018/February/27/NBC-Announces-Commentators-For-2018-Paralympic-Winter-Games.
Round robin schedule (all times local KST):
Sunday, March 11:
9:35 a.m., USA vs. Germany
7:35 p.m., USA vs. Sweden
Monday, March 12:
2:35 p.m., USA vs. Finland
7:35 p.m., USA vs. Neutral Paralympic Athletes
Tuesday, March 13:
2:35 p.m., USA vs. China
7:35 p.m., USA vs. Canada
Wednesday, March 14:
9:35 a.m., USA vs. Switzerland
2:35 p.m., USA vs. Great Britain
Thursday, March 15:
9:35 a.m., USA vs. Norway
7:35 p.m., USA vs. Slovakia
Friday, March 16:
9:35 a.m., tiebreaker games, if needed
3:35 p.m., semifinals
Saturday, March 17:
9:35 a.m., bronze-medal game
2:35 p.m., gold-medal game
USA round robin results:
Korea 7, USA 3