FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb. 10, 2018
Americans on the respirator for playoffs in mixed doubles curling
(GANGNEUNG, South Korea) – The wins just don’t want to come for Team USA’s Becca Hamilton and Matt Hamilton as they lost their fourth straight mixed doubles curling match today at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.
In a must-win situation for both countries, China’s Rui Wang and Dexin Ba defeated the U.S. duo from McFarland, Wis., 6-4, today at the Gangneung Curling Centre.
“The Chinese team came out great. They capitalized on our misses and were able to steal. Unfortunately, we came out on the wrong end of the stick there,” Becca Hamilton said.
“For the most part, we played a pretty good game. It was just kind of a bonehead play not taking the power play in six. We got a little aggressive, we felt like were playing good, we were confident we could score a point there and I got a little heavy on my last rock and took the chances out of Becca’s hands,” Matt Hamilton said.
At 1-4, the only chance the Americans have now is to win out and hope that the Swiss (3-2) lose their remaining two games to get into a tiebreaker situation. Canada defeated Switzerland, 7-2, today to improve to 4-1 to set up a three-way tie for first place with Norway and the Olympic Athletes From Russia (OAR). Switzerland’s remaining opponents include host Korea (2-3) and OAR (4-1).
“You look at the stats, we’re right up there with the other teams – even better sometimes. It’s just the one shot that gets us and bites us in the end,” Becca Hamilton said. “We had a couple of unfortunate steals there when we had to score. We’re going to have to come back sharp. Hopefully, we are going to have some tie-breakers in our favor later.”
The U.S. team started the game strong, putting the pressure on the Chinese and were rewarded with a steal of two when Wang’s final draw shot was light. China was forced to make a tap to score just a single point in the second end as the U.S. team kept control of the game. The Americans got two stones positioned around the button early in the third end to initially have China chasing. However, a roll out after a successful takeout from the U.S. allowed China to remove the other American stone in scoring position, thus forcing the U.S. to draw for a single point for a 3-1 advantage.
A great final draw from Becca Hamilton in the fourth end limited China to a single point as the U.S. held a modest 3-2 halftime lead. China leveled the score in the fifth end with a well-executed draw that the U.S. couldn’t out-counter. The same situation surfaced in the sixth end as China took its first lead with another single steal. The Americans then used their power play in the seventh end in hopes of generating some offense. The U.S., however, has not had much luck with the power play this week and were forced to make a takeout for only a single point.
“In the sixth end we should have used the power play. And they stole on us. That was a key factor. You’ve got to keep the hammer in eight. So, we should’ve scored in six. We could’ve used the power play,” Becca Hamilton said about the team’s strategy in using the power play in the sixth end versus the seventh end.
In the final end, China then used its power play to ensure the win. Matt Hamilton used the corner guard well as the Americans tucked a stone behind it with their fourth stone. China countered by peeling the guard to open the path to score. Becca Hamilton was trying to place her final stone in the top of the eight foot to have two stones in scoring position and put more pressure on Wang but it came up inches short and in second position. This gave Wang an open takeout for the win.
“I was surprised that we didn’t power play in the sixth end. We’ve talked about that – if we are tied or one down we would normally play power play in sixth. But they have to go with what feels right at the time,” said Jake Higgs, Coach for Team USA. “So, it’s not that they have to do that. It’s just what they normally would do. We didn’t power play in the sixth and then unfortunately we had that one draw that slipped a little deep and left them a pocket to freeze in – and we gave up a steal. So, if we’re not going to power play in six, we have to find a way to make sure we score at least one. That was what undid us in this game.”
The Americans will take on Norway (4-1) at 8 tonight KT and conclude the round robin tomorrow morning against Finland (0-5). The top four teams will advance to the semifinals on Monday with the medal games following on Tuesday.
“We need to find a way, after the break, to bring that level of play to the second half of the game. We’ve had three games with the Swiss, Canada and today where we were just not able to bring our level to the same level as at the start of the game,” said Jake Higgs, coach of Team USA.
The U.S. duo is statistically ranked No. 3 in the field with Becca Hamilton tied for first place for female players – they just haven’t had the wins to back it up.
“We’re competitors, the intensity is there, whether we are at the Olympics or whether we’re playing against each other in Madison,” Becca Hamilton said.
*China 010 111 02 – 6
USA 201 000 10 – 4
*last rock to begin game
Other game scores: Canada 7, Switzerland 2; OAR 6, Korea 5; Norway 7, Finland 6
USA’s remaining opponents: Norway, 8 p.m. KT today; Finland, 9 a.m. KT on Sunday
USA round robin results:
USA 9, OAR 3
Canada 6, USA 4
Switzerland 9, USA 4
Korea 9, USA 1
China 6, USA 4
For more information or to request images: Terry Davis, Director of Communications, email@example.com, 608-338-9900 (mobile) or 0-104-364-8015 (Korean mobile).