USA takes down Japan to start World Championship on winning note

By Terry L. Davis | April 01, 2018, 1:20 a.m. (ET)


March 31, 2018


Team USA opens 361° World Men’s Championship with win over Japan


(LAS VEGAS) – Greg Persinger and the American men battled back to defeat Japan on the opening day of the 361° World Men’s Curling Championship at Orleans Arena.


Persinger (Fairbanks, Alaska) and his team of Rich Ruohonen (Brooklyn Park, Minn.), Colin Hufman (St. Paul, Minn.), and Phil Tilker (Seattle) took down Japan’s Go Aoki rink, 6-5, with the final stone in an extra end.


“That felt great to win it like that,” said Ruohonen, who throws third stones but calls the game for the Americans. “They made a lot of great shots on us when we had ‘em. You gotta get that big win and have Greg make that last shot to give us a lot of confidence and give him a lot of confidence. We all missed some shots there.”


The U.S. was set to close out the game in the 10th end but 18-year-old Aoki made a 20-foot angle raise to force an extra end.


“That’s a five-percenter at best. You can throw it like 20 times and maybe make it once – and he made it perfect. I turned to him and told him nice shot and I think Phil gave him a high five. What are you gonna go? Even his last shot – it was unbelievable – to draw the back button behind one that was in the top four? He played well,” Ruohonen said about Aoki’s shotmaking.


With the final stone of the game, Persinger converted a runback to remove a buried Japanese rock and put the U.S. in the win column of the 12-game round robin.


“We didn’t have our A game, but we pulled one out and that’s what you have to do at this level,” Ruohonen said.


The game was back-and-forth with Japan going after the deuce in the opening end when they placed their lead stone perfectly behind an American center guard. The U.S. had a deuce set up in the next end but a heavy draw with Ruohonen’s vice stone led to a blank end. The U.S. got the two-point end set up once again in the third and drew into the eight-foot to tie the game.


The U.S. got a stone buried in the four-foot early in the fourth end to keep Japan chasing. When Aoki’s final stone was light, the U.S. would steal a point for its first lead of the game. The Americans would set up another steal in the sixth end and benefit with Aoki’s first runback attempt wasn’t successful.


The Americans played another solid end to force Japan into a hit to take just a single point in the seventh. A few half shots in the eighth end by the U.S. had Persinger drawing against four. The final shot would be light, resulting in a single steal for Japan to tie the game once again.


In the ninth end, two key misses by the Americans allowed Japan to place three stones in the path to the button. Furious sweeping from Hufman and Tilker would bring the final American stone into scoring position as the U.S. took a 5-4 lead into the 10th end. Japan was in a bundle of trouble in the 10th end and the U.S. looked to have the win in hand when Aoki converted the perfect angle raise to score a point and force an extra end. A double peel with Hufman’s first stone of the 11th kept things tidy around the house. Aoki, however, was able to perfectly curl his final stone behind a rock that was sitting in the four-foot. The Americans answered the pressure with a runback for the win.


The U.S. returns to the ice in the morning session against the Netherlands (0-1) and will take on Korea (1-0) in the afternoon session.


“This is a tough day for us because we have back-to-back games tomorrow so it’s basically three in a row so we gotta go home and get some rest. Those are the ones that if you lose – it’s tough, and to win it feels great. We’re ready to go,” Ruohonen said.


Line score:

USA       002 101 001 01 – 6

*Japan  200 000 110 10 – 5

*last stone in first end (hammer)


Draw 2 results: Norway 10, Italy 4; Sweden 7, Switzerland 3; Scotland 8, Canada 7


Draw 1 results: Sweden 6, Germany 5; Canada 7, Russia 6; China 6, Switzerland 5; Korea 7, Netherlands 4



Sweden              2-0

China                  1-0

Korea                  1-0

Norway               1-0

Scotland             1-0

USA                     1-0

Canada               1-1

Germany            0-1

Italy                     0-1

Japan                  0-1

Netherlands      0-1

Russia                 0-1

Switzerland        0-2


A complete TV schedule is posted at


Here is a look at Team USA’s round robin & TV schedule (all times local, PDT):

Sunday, April 1:

8:30 a.m., USA vs. Netherlands (Jaap Van Dorp) – Live on the Olympic Channel

1:30 p.m., USA vs. Korea (ChangMin Kim) – Live on the Olympic Channel


Monday, April 2:

8:30 a.m., USA vs. Norway (Steffen Walstad) – Live on the Olympic Channel app & then aired on NBCSN at 9:30 a.m. (same day delay)

1:30 p.m., USA vs. Scotland (Bruce Mouat) – Live on the Olympic Channel


Tuesday, April 3:

1:30 p.m., USA vs. Sweden (Niklas Edin) – Live on the Olympic Channel


Wednesday, April 4:

8:30 a.m., USA vs. Russia (Alexey Timofeev) – Live on the Olympic Channel app & then aired on NBCSN at 9 a.m. (same day delay)

1:30 p.m., USA vs. Germany (Alexander Baumann) – Live on the Olympic Channel


Thursday, April 5:

1:30 p.m., USA vs. Italy (Joel Retornaz)

6:30 p.m., USA vs. Canada (Brad Gushue) – Live on the Olympic Channel app & then aired on NBCSN at 7:30 p.m. (same day delay)


Friday, April 6:

8:30 a.m., USA vs. China (Deija Zou) – Live on the Olympic Channel

6:30 p.m., USA vs. Switzerland (Marc Pfister) – Live on the Olympic Channel


Playoff schedule:

Saturday, April 7:

8:30 a.m., Qualification games (#3 vs. #6; #4 vs. #5) – Live on the Olympic Channel app

1:30 p.m., Semifinal #1 – Live on the Olympic Channel

6:30 p.m., Semifinal #2 – Live on the Olympic Channel


Sunday, April 8:

12 p.m., Bronze-medal game – Live on the Olympic Channel

5 p.m., Gold-medal game – Live on NBCSN


USA Curling is sponsored by AtomOS, Nike, Brooms Up Curling Supplies, Cheetos, CryoMAX 8-Hour Cold Pack, Sitrin, The RAM Restaurant & Brewery, Thorne, BalancePlus, ISS Ice, Sports & Solar, IHG, and Brakebush, and is partnered with Laurie Artiss Ltd. – The Pin People, United Airlines, 12th End Sports Network, IHG, and CurlingZone.




For more information: Terry Davis, Director of Communications,, 608-338-9900 (mobile).