American ladies still fighting for Olympic playoff berth

By Terry L. Davis | Feb. 20, 2018, 4:14 a.m. (ET)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Feb. 20, 2018

American women keeping playoff hopes alive despite loss

(GANGNEUNG, South Korea) – Nina Roth and the American women will keep on fighting for a spot in the playoffs despite a loss today to host Korea as the round robin at Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 winds down.

Roth (McFarland, Wis.) and teammates Tabitha Peterson (St. Paul, Minn.), Aileen Geving (Duluth, Minn.), and Becca Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.) fell to Eunjung Kim’s team, 9-6, to drop to 4-4 in the standings. A win tomorrow against Sweden, however, potentially puts the American ladies in the tiebreaker conversation at Gangneung Curling Centre.

“It’s a must-win tomorrow for us. So, it’s head down and go,” Geving said.

An amazing shot from Korea in the fifth end broke open a tightly contested match and swung the momentum in favor of the Koreans, who secured the first of four available semifinal berths as they improved to 6-1. It’s the first Olympic playoff appearance for a Korean curling team.

“They are a great team. They are very resilient. They’ve got home-court advantage, they like a lot of rocks in play. They put pressure on teams and I think that’s great,” Roth said about Team Korea. “We had fun playing them at worlds last year, came out on top that time, but not this time, unfortunately. They are a great team, and I hope to play them again later this week.”

Sweden, which was idle this morning, is sitting in second place at 5-2 with Great Britain and Japan tied for third place at 5-3 after Eve Muirhead led her team to an 8-6 victory today over Satsuki Fujisawa.

The U.S. team is 4-4 and tied for fifth place with China, who took down Canada today,

7-5. The American women close out the round robin tomorrow night against the Sweden’s Anna Hasselborg rink. Great Britain’s final opponent will be Canada tomorrow morning. Japan has Switzerland yet to play so many scenarios are in place for a potential tiebreaker game with two sessions remaining on the schedule.

The two sides met one another shot for shot through nearly five ends of play with Korea making the fans roar in the fifth end with a fantastic angle raise that left four Korean stones in scoring position and put the pressure on the U.S. with a difficult draw that made the difference in the game.

“It was tough. We had some good angles in our favor and some that weren’t. It was a toss-up as to whether to unlock those rocks or plug it up and save our one. We plugged it up and she [Korean skip] made a great shot to get at it,” Geving said about the pivotal fifth end.

A great shot with Tabitha’s first vice skip stone of the game placed a second American rock into the four-foot behind guards. Korea’s second peel attempt moved another American stone into the four-foot. The U.S. was eventually left with a draw for two for a productive start to the game.

In the second end, a raise attempt from Korea’s second, Seon Yeong Kim, removed their shot stone and left four U.S. stones in scoring position. After Peterson placed a fifth U.S. stone in the rings, Korea used a raise to remove just one stone. Peterson’s guard didn’t cover up the Korean center guard enough, giving the Korean vice skip another raise opportunity. Korea would remove one more stone, but the U.S. still had three counters. Roth’s guard attempt over-curled and left an opening for Korea to remove the U.S. stone in the back of the four-foot to get a stone in scoring position for the first time. Great sweeping from Geving kept Roth’s takeout on track as Korea was forced to make a soft takeout for a point.

The U.S. had an unfortunate roll with their stone after Peterson removed a Korean stone and set Korea up for a double takeout to take away the deuce opportunity for the Americans. Peterson’s freeze attempt needed a few more inches to be perfect, leaving a Korean stone in first position. USA’s next takeout attempt inadvertently removed their other rock as Korea was left with two stones in the rings. Roth was eventually able to pop out a Korean stone to settle the end with a point.

A successful peel by Geving removed a Korean corner guard and rolled fortuitously as a center guard to cover Hamilton’s two stones in the top of the four-foot to keep the U.S. in control. Kim’s first skip stone was light and in second position so the U.S. used its final stone of the end to place another rock in the house to force Korea into playing a tap for the point.

The U.S. had a stone hidden behind a line of stones on the center line for the first half of the fifth end. A missed takeout with the USA’s second vice skip stone set Korea up for a miraculous angle raise double takeout to finally remove Hamilton’s first lead stone. That left Korea with four stones in scoring position – and blocking the path to the four-foot for the U.S. to score. Roth’s draw attempt rubbed on a stone in the eight-foot and didn’t get in close enough to out-count any of the Korean rocks as they gave up four points.

With the three-point lead, Korea could finally go on the defense in the sixth end. A great runback double from Peterson helped open the scoring area back up but Korea was able to retain control of the end as they had a stone covering half of the button. Roth’s final angle raise attempt had little room for error and the U.S. played it perfectly to score a much-needed point. Korea was attempting to blank the seventh end, but their final peel ended up jamming on a stone just outside of the house to collect a point.

In the eighth end, two well-placed draws from Peterson put the U.S. in good position to score two. Roth sealed it with a draw into the eight-foot to tighten the game at 7-6. A great freeze by Peterson in the ninth end had the U.S. in good shape to steal the end until Korea raised it out with Kim’s first skip stone. A little too much weight with Roth’s final hit and roll gave Korea the draw for two that sealed the win. The U.S. tried to generate a big end in the 10th but could not rally.

“We came out playing so well in the first couple of ends and had Korea looking at threes and fours at some points. The steal of four in the fifth was really a tough one. It’s kind of hard to rebound from that. But they did. They played pretty well the second half. A few inches here and there,” said Cory Christensen (Duluth, Minn.), the team’s alternate. “They know they’re still in it and [my role] is keeping their attitudes up.”

Kim MinJung, coach of the Korean women’s team, said after the game that her team knows that they have made Olympic and curling history by qualifying Korea for the semifinals for the first time. However, Kim stressed that they had still had a lot to do in order to win. They feel very strongly that they have a debt to repay to the Korean people who have filled the Gangneung Curling Centre for their matches and come to support them. They hope that if they do well this will help grow the sport of curling in Korea.”

For a complete photo gallery from each game, go to https://www.facebook.com/teamusacurl.

Line score:

*USA     201 001 020 x – 6

Korea    010 140 102 x – 9

*last rock in first end

Other game scores: China 7, Canada 5; Great Britain 8, Japan 6

Women’s standings:

Korea                  6-1Q

Sweden              5-2

Great Britain      5-3

Japan                  5-3

China                  4-4

USA                     4-4

Canada               3-4

OAR                     2-5

Switzerland        2-5

Denmark            1-6

Q=qualified for semifinals

Men’s standings:

Sweden              7-1Q

Canada               5-3

Great Britain      5-3

Switzerland        5-3

Japan                  3-4

Norway               3-4

USA                     3-4

Korea                  3-5

Denmark            2-5

Italy                     2-6

Q=Qualified for semifinals

USA men’s round robin results:

USA 11, Korea 7

Italy 10, USA 9

Sweden 10, USA 4

USA 9, Denmark 5

Japan 8, USA 2

Norway 8, USA 5

USA 9, Canada 7

USA women’s round robin results:

Japan 10, USA 5

USA 7, Great Britain 4

Switzerland 6, USA 5

USA 7, OAR 6 (extra end)

Canada 11, USA 3

USA 7, Denmark 6

USA 10, China 4

Korea 9, USA 6

Round robin schedule:

Tuesday:

USA men vs. Switzerland (Peter de Cruz), 8:05 p.m.

Wednesday:

USA men vs. Great Britain (Kyle Smith), 2:05 p.m.

USA women vs. Sweden (Anna Hasselborg), 8:05 p.m.

Playoff schedule:

Thursday:

Tiebreaker games, if needed, 9:05 a.m.

Men’s semifinals, 8:05 p.m.

Friday:

Men’s bronze-medal game, 3:35 p.m.

Women’s semifinals, 8:05 p.m.

Saturday:

Men’s gold-medal game, 3:35 p.m.

Women’s bronze-medal game, 8:05 p.m.

Sunday:

Women’s gold-medal game, 9:05 a.m.

All games are streaming live at www.nbcolympics.com and on the NBC Sports app with TV coverage live or on tape delay on NBCSN, USA Network and CNBC. A complete schedule is posted at http://www.nbcolympics.com/live-stream-schedule#/.

For more information on the U.S. teams, go to https://www.teamusa.org/usa-curling/2018-us-olympic-curling-team.

To follow along, go to https://www.pyeongchang2018.com/en/game-time/results/OWG2018/en/curling/daily-schedule.htm

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For more information: Terry Davis, Director of Communications, terry.davis@usacurl.org, 608-338-9900 (mobile) or 0-104-364-8015 (Korean mobile).