GANGNEUNG, South Korea – Team USA suffered its second loss of the day as they came up against a hot-shooting opponent tonight in round robin play at the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.
Skipped by Konstantin Kurokhtin, the Neutral Paralympic Athletes (NPA) kept Kirk Black and the American team off the scoreboard until the sixth end as they turned in a 75 percent shooting percentage in sending Team USA to its fourth loss of the Games.
Black (San Antonio, Texas) and teammates Steve Emt (Hebron, Conn.), Justin Marshall (Evansville, Wis.), and Penny Greely (Green Bay, Wis.) had one of its better shooting games of the championship but missed shots at inopportune times.
Kurokhtin, who didn’t miss a shot until the latter ends, finished with an 86 percent shooting output – a very high percentage for wheelchair curling. The NPA lead, Daria Shchukina, shot 89 percent. USA’s collective 63 percent tonight was its best effort to date.
“We all played really well as a team and individually we each played well. We just ran into a team that spiked at the wrong time against us,” said Marshall, who is competing in is first Paralympic Games. “They didn’t have a good record coming in to this game either but, boy, they played phenomenal out there.”
The U.S. is now 1-4 in the 11-game round robin and facing an uphill battle to reach the medal round at the Gangneung Curling Centre.
“It was still a great game for us so we can roll that into tomorrow. If we can keep playing with the percentages I think we threw tonight, I think we can take most teams in the field,” said Marshall, 31, who works as an architect associate.
The Americans have two games on tap on Tuesday as they face China (5-0) in the afternoon session (2:35 p.m. KST) and Canada (3-2) in the evening draw (7:35 p.m. KST).
NPA was the first to score in tonight’s match when Black narrowly missed a takeout to give up a single steal in the opening end. With three NPA stones in the rings, the U.S. opted to throw a takeout even though it wouldn’t give them a point instead of drawing for a single point in the second end. The Americans were in a back-and-forth battle in the third end and again narrowly missed the final takeout attempt to spot NPA another point.
The Americans attempted a double takeout with the final stone of the fourth end but only removed one as NPA extended the lead to 4-0. The U.S. struggled with draw weight in the fifth end that resulted in NPA taking yet another point. The Americans finally got a good scoring end set up in the sixth end and capitalized when Kurokhtin finally missed a shot, which allowed Black to draw a third stone in the rings.
A few missed takeouts by the U.S. in the seventh end allowed NPA to have four stones in scoring position at one point. But two great draws from Black put the Americans in position to steal a point to only trail 5-4.
The Americans had a steal in play late in the eighth end when Emt drew behind a center guard and forced NPA to throw a peel with their next stone. The Americans, unfortunately, would miss a takeout with Black’s final stone of the game, leaving the winning points in place for NPA to secure its second win of the round robin.
China is now the lone undefeated team as host Korea suffered its first loss as Germany defeated the Koreans on a heavy draw in the eighth end. The Germans, Great Britain and Korea are all tied for second place behind China.
NPA 111 110 01 – 6
*USA 000 003 10 – 4
*last stone in first end (hammer)
Other session scores: Great Britain 8, Canada 1; Germany 4, Korea 3; Norway 6, Switzerland 3
Round robin standings:
Great Britain 4-1
*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):
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
Germany 6, USA 4
USA 10, Sweden 2
Finland 8, USA 5
Neutral Paralympic Athletes 6, USA 4