Finland steals eighth end to defeat Team USA in South Korea

By Terry L. Davis | March 12, 2018, 5:04 a.m. (ET)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 12, 2018

 

Finland steals win from Team USA in round robin action

 

(GANGNEUNG, South Korea) – With four games under their belts, Kirk Black and Team USA know that there’s plenty of room for improvement and plenty of games left for the Americans to show it 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.) lost on the final stone of the game to Finland’s Sari Karjalainen rink today by an 8-5 score.

 

The loss drops the Americans to 1-3 in the 11-game round robin at the Gangneung Curling Centre and put Finland into the win column for the first time of the championship.

 

“We just had one end where we gave up that four that really hurt us. Anytime you give that up – two’s alright, three is whoa, four is tough. We came back from there with two to tie it and went back and forth,” Emt said.

 

Needing two points for the win, the U.S. team had multiple chances to draw a second point into the rings but came up light with each attempt. “We had everything going for us in the eighth, but it just didn’t work out,” said Emt, 48, who played basketball at the University of Connecticut prior to his injury.

 

The U.S. squad got off to a good start and had Finland chasing in the first two ends but a shaky third end gave Finland the lead and a fresh start.

 

“If you win seldom, I think you celebrate it a bit more. We were cheering up to the Finnish audience thanking them for the support. I think we are just getting the shape, and maybe the tension around the Paralympics is getting into some sort of routine that ‘okay, this is nothing else than an ordinary curling game,’” said Markku Karjalainen, vice skip, Finland. “I think our games are improving as we go forward. There are so many games left that everything is open.”

 

A beautiful draw with Emt’s first vice skip stone of the opening end placed an American stone perfectly on the button behind a center guard. When Finland wasn’t able to counter, the U.S. used its last stone of the end to place another one in the four-foot and put the pressure on Finland. With the hammer, the Finns were only able to remove one as the Americans stole a point.

 

The second end started well for the U.S. as they positioned a stone on the button and benefitted from a wonky peel attempt by Finland that sent an American corner guard perfectly into the top of the 12-foot to act as a guard. Finland was able to draw into second position but never got any closer as the U.S. stole another point.

 

Finland was poised to score multiple points early on in the third end. A really nice draw from Emt put an American stone in second position but the U.S. was not able to protect it with Black’s guard attempt and Finland was able to convert a takeout to score four points.

 

The U.S. team had a little bit of luck on its side in the fourth end when a critical takeout attempt with Black’s first shot made contact with a stone above the rings and spun back into the house to remove the Finnish shot rock he was aiming at originally. When Finland’s takeout rolled into second position, the Americans were successful with a draw into the four-foot to score two points to tie the game. Finland could not take advantage of a missed takeout attempt late in the fifth end and settled for a single point when their final draw attempt was light.

 

A great draw with Marshall’s second stone of the sixth end set the U.S. team up to score. However, Finland’s next shot was a near freeze and narrowed the scoring area for the U.S. to get a second counter in as the teams cluttered the path to the rings with granite.

 

A solid double takeout from Emt was followed up with a successful tap that finally put the U.S. in shot rock position at the very top of the rings in the seventh end. Finland’s tap attempt inadvertently moved the U.S. stone a half inch further into the rings to ensure it was in first position. Black then followed up by removing a Finnish rock to take away their tap opportunity. Finland then tried to draw into the house but it over-curled and nicely moved their other stone into the top of the 12-foot for the best spot. Black used the last American shot to remove the Finnish rock and leave two U.S. stones in position to steal. Finland was forced into a difficult tap that proved successful as they took a 6-5 lead.

 

The U.S. had the opportunity to set up the deuce in the eighth end when Marshall, who threw a team-best 61 percent, drew behind the guards into the four-foot. A light draw by Finland ended up tapping in a U.S. guard to place a second counter in the rings. Finland was eventually able to remove that stone and the Americans were never able to counterattack by placing a second stone in the rings despite multiple opportunities to draw stones in. Finland eventually removed the American shot rock with their final stone of the game, leaving Black with a draw for one to force an extra end. Unfortunately, the draw woes continued for the Americans and the final stone came up well short of the house as Finland stole the winning points.

 

“As the building emptied with three games ending, the ice slowed down a lot. We knew Finland was a great draw team and we tried to play a takeout game. We left a couple of those first draws short and next thing you know there’s a lot of garbage up front to dig out after that,” Emt said.

 

Up next for Team USA is a round robin game tonight at 7:35 p.m. KST against the Neutral Paralympic Athletes (1-2).

 

Line score:

*Finland             004 010 12 – 8

USA                     110 201 00 – 5

*last rock in first end

 

Other session scores: China 8, Switzerland 2; Great Britain 6, Sweden 1; Germany 7, Slovakia 6

 

Round robin standings:

China                  5-0

Korea                  4-0

Canada               3-1

Germany            3-1

Great Britain      3-1

Switzerland        2-2

Slovakia              2-3

Norway               1-3

NPA*                   1-3

USA                     1-3

Finland               1-4

Sweden              0-5

*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

 

Playoffs:

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

 

Useful event links:

https://www.teamusa.org/us-paralympics

http://www.worldcurling.org/pwg2018

https://www.paralympic.org/

https://www.pyeongchang2018.com/en/paralympics/index

 

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For more information: Terry Davis, Director of Communications, terry.davis@usacurl.org, 608-338-9900 (mobile).