GANGNEUNG, South Korea – Kirk Black and Team USA lost another heartbreaker tonight in round robin competition at the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.
Black (San Antonio, Texas) and teammates Steve Emt (Hebron, Conn.), Justin Marshall (Evansville, Wis.), and Penny Greely (Green Bay, Wis.) jumped out to a 3-0 lead against Canada’s Mark Ideson only to see the win evaporate in a 6-5 extra-end loss at the Gangneung Curling Centre.
“Tonight it wasn’t execution – it was ourselves beating ourselves,” said Rusty Schieber, U.S. head coach.
The U.S. team out-shot its opponent for the second straight game but didn’t get a win to show for it.
“I think this is a young and inexperienced and even when they are playing well and firing on all cylinders something pops up whether it be play or calling the game,” Schieber said. “Tonight they played very, very well; they played well this afternoon, and played very well last night. Tonight, it came down to calling the game. This team is normally tactfully sound on how to call a game and I’ve been very pleased with that throughout the entire competition. But, tonight to close out a tight game against Canada we simply played the absolute wrong strategy to try to get the steal and then played the ninth end like we didn’t have the hammer.”
The Americans are now 1-6 in the 11-game round robin and essentially out of the playoff conversation with four games remaining on the schedule.
“I don’t know what to say. We just can’t get a break one way or the other right now,” said Black, who made his skipping debut at this competition. “We’re doing our best and if we keep playing like we are the wins will start coming.”
Team USA out-shot Canada, 61 to 53 percent.
“It’s tough. Everyone is playing their hearts out and everybody wants to win. Nobody is giving up – we’re just doing our best,” Black said.
Team USA got off to a productive start as they took advantage of a missed takeout from Canada – the only error by either side in the opening end – to score two points. The Americans continued their strong shooting into the second end and had three stones in scoring position. Black used the final American rock to guard and Ideson’s final stone of the end was wide, giving the U.S. a single steal and a 3-0 advantage.
The two leads placed stones touching the button that stayed in play until the last rock of the end was thrown by Canada. After a measure it was determined that Canada had scored a point. The Americans were in great shape to score multiple points in the fourth end until the last four stones. Two great shots from Ideson placed Canadian rocks in scoring positions for the first time in the end and resulted in a single steal when USA’s angle runback didn’t pan out.
Greely got a stone buried behind a center guard to start off the second half of the game strong for the Americans. Canada didn’t remove it until Ideson’s final stone, putting the pressure on the U.S. to get through a port and replicate. Black’s final stone made contact with a guard and Canada stole another point to even the scoreboard.
Canada would take its first lead in the sixth end when the final U.S. draw was heavy to award their opponent a point. The Americans got a stone in the rings and covered up early in the seventh end and made a takeout with the final stone to score two and regain the lead.
The U.S. team met Canada shot for shot in the eighth end. It wasn’t until Black’s first skip stone – a takeout attempt that jammed and left a Canada stone in second position – that the Canadian team had a glimmer of hope for the deuce. However, Ideson’s final draw was light, sending the game into an extra end.
Canada’s vice skip Ina Forrest drew down to the back of the four-foot behind a center guard and Emt’s attempt to follow it down was very light and ended up as another guard. Ideson was then able to further block the path to the four-foot for the U.S. team. Needing to clean things up, Emt’s peel attempt didn’t open the path up to help the Americans. Ideson drew another stone into the back of the four-foot and the U.S. stone was wide as Canada stole the winning point to improve to 5-2 and stay in the playoff hunt.
The U.S. has a quick turnaround as they’ll play in the morning session against Switzerland (3-4) followed by the afternoon draw against Great Britain (4-3).
Canada 001 111 01 1 – 6
*USA 210 000 20 0 – 5
*last stone in first end (hammer)
Other session scores: NPA 8, Great Britain 2; Norway 8, Germany 6; Korea 6, Switzerland 5
Round robin standings:
Great Britain 4-3
*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):
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
China 6, USA 4
Canada 6, USA 5