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Fenson rink falls to Switzerland, Sweden in Sunday matches

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Fenson rink falls to Switzerland, Sweden in Sunday matches
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Pete Fenson and the American men would like to erase Day Two from their memories as an early morning loss was coupled with an 11-2 defeat tonight at the 2011 Ford World Men's Championship at Evraz Place in the Brandt Centre.

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Fenson (Bemidji, Minn.) and teammates Shawn Rojeski (Chisholm, Minn.), Joe Polo (Duluth, Minn.) and Ryan Brunt (Bemidji, Minn.) struggled to execute efficiently in the lopsided loss to Sweden's Niklas Edin rink.

"We're just not getting our rocks where we need to get them. We're struggling a little bit with positioning the rocks. We need to do a lot better," said Fenson, the seven-time U.S. champion and 2006 Olympic bronze medalist.

With the loss, the Americans drop to 1-2 in the early portion of the 11-game round robin. Edin, 25, who works as a curling instructor for the Swedish Olympic Committee and finished fourth in Vancouver at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in his first appearance, led the Swedes to a perfect 2-0 day today to improve to 2-1 overall.

"Sweden played good tonight. First end was a big deal because we had them forced, and we tried to play a little tap-up and it runs on us. I was maybe a foot or two heavy and that gives them a draw for two. We got into a tough spot. We maybe were going to give him a tough shot for two, but we ended up giving them an easy shot for two," Fenson said. "That was a big turning point. After that, they just played good, and we didn't."

The U.S. opened strong throughout the first few rocks in tonight's battle with Sweden getting two rocks in the four-foot covered by a center guard early on. They capitalized when Swedish second Fredrik Lindberg flashed a takeout, allowing Rojeski to further clog the entry to the four-foot. There was enough room, however, for Swedish vice skip Sebastian Kraupp to sneak through and tap one U.S. rock out to grab scoring position for the first time in the end. Edin snuck through that same port as his teammate and pushed back the other U.S. rock that was in the four-foot but lost his other stone in the process. Fenson used his second shot to try to promote the stone he'd placed in the eight-foot earlier but it had too much weight and pushed it to the back of the eight-foot, giving Edin a draw through the port for two.

USA's hopes for a deuce went to the wayside when Fenson's first takeout hit the target but the shooter rolled out in the second end. That left Edin to pick off the other American rock in the side of the house, resulting in the U.S. blanking the end. The U.S. men were poised for the deuce again in the third end but just like the second end, things unraveled and Fenson found himself staring down four Scottish rocks all on one side of the house with his first freeze attempt. The rock was left as easy picking for the hard-throwing Edin, and the U.S. was forced to take a single.

The fifth end didn't fare any better for the Americans as the U.S. couldn't catch a break and get anything worthwhile set up to score points. The end further disintegrated when Fenson tried to draw for one, threw it too hard, and the stone never curled, resulting in a three-point bounty for Sweden.

"We didn't think we had a shot to score, but we were trying to make it as good as we could make it, and try to give them one. We needed to get full four-foot to give them the one," Fenson said.

After the U.S. was forced to make a takeout to score one in the sixth, Sweden capitalized for four more points to result in an 11-2 drubbing of the Americans.

"We just got into some trouble tonight early and couldn't get out of trouble. I had a few tricky ones and wasn't sharp and couldn't make some of those tricky ones, and that was the difference," Fenson said.

The U.S. men have the morning draw off but then play back-to-back games on Monday leading into a stretch of four straight games. In the afternoon draw at 1:30 p.m. MT, the Americans face Andy Kapp and the Germans (1-2). In the evening draw, Fenson and Co. will battle the home team skipped by Jeff Stoughton of Manitoba (3-0 for Canada).

There was not a Sunday morning blessing bestowed upon the American men by the curling GodsFenson and Team USA struggled with draw weight in a 6-4 loss to Switzerland.

Fenson and his teammates were riding high after a dominating performance on day one but as the morning unfurled, struggles with weight, rocks and execution prevailed as the theme of the morning for the American men against Switzerland's Christof Schwaller rink. With just two games being played in this draw and a smaller crowd, the U.S. battled themselves more than the Swiss in the loss.

"We had a little trouble as a team with the ice early. It was a little different today than it was last night. We had a couple of rocks that we were concerned with so were passing those around. We had some trouble with those. We fought back, and I had a hit for the tie and threw it poorly, and that's kinda the way it ended up," said Fenson, who is making his seventh appearance at the world championships and fifth as skip.

A bright spot for the Americans this morning was that despite the struggles with the ice and rocks, Polo kept the U.S. in the game with an 86 percent shooting output.

"I think it was a little bit ice conditions, not really ready to know what the ice was going to turn into, and we got a little unlucky at times," Polo summarized post-game about the team's play.

The first end featured both teams shooting a little off but the Americans forced the Swiss to a single after a measurement as Fenson's last hit and roll to rest behind the corner guard nearly resulted in a steal.

With the last-rock advantage in the second, the U.S. got a stone buried behind a corner guard early in the end but struggled with draw weight until Fenson's first stone as he placed another rock into scoring position in the top of the eight-foot, partially buried by a center guard. Schwaller's team also struggled with their weight and Schwaller's second stone was indicative of this as he came up well short of the four-foot to try to cut the Americans down to scoring more than two. With his final toss, Fenson attempted a takeout of the Swiss rock on the side of the eight-foot that was more than half buried but couldn't get enough of it.

The Swiss architect Schwaller, 44, won the bronze medal at the Olympics in 2002 as vice skip and is playing his first world championship at the skip position since 2000 and sixth overall for Switzerland. The Swiss struggled as well with Schwaller turning in a 68 percent shooting output, compared to Fenson's 63.

"We had some bad rocks, two or three bad rocks, they curl too much, but the U.S. team also had some problems in the second end," Schwaller said.

Switzerland countered with a deuce of their own in the third end and the fourth looked destined to be blanked by the Americans until the Swiss covered their stone in the four-foot with a guard instead of peeling the corner guard Rojeski put up with his first throw. The U.S. tried to freeze to the Swiss rock in the house but Rojeski's stone was a bit wide, leaving it as easy picking for the Swiss. Now with two Swiss stones in the rings, Fenson used an up-weight takeout to try to blast both of them out. The end result was the removal of one but the other got moved into the open. Schwaller countered by drawing around the center guard into the top of the rings leaving Fenson with a takeout of the stone out in the open eight-foot for a single to tie the game, 3-3.

A shaky fifth end nearly spelled disaster for the Americans as Schwaller had a chance to score four but was limited to just one. USA patiently waited for a Swiss miss in the sixth end that didn't surface, so the end was blanked.

The seventh end wasn't as precise as the Americans had hoped. Early on in the end, the U.S. had shot rock behind a cluster of guards off the centerline but the Swiss snuck one in closer that troubled the U.S. throughout the end. By the time Fenson threw his final stone of the end, all but two of the 15 rocks delivered were in play creating quite the barrier in the house and above the house. Fenson used his first rock to attempt a double peel but left his shooter and didn't improve his odds for his second toss when Schwaller further clogged things up. Fenson attempted a raise angle that just missed and the Swiss stole a point to extend the lead to 5-3.

"The steal in the seventh was very close, very close....two for U.S. or one for us; that was very close," Schwaller acknowledged.

A perfect hit and roll behind the corner guard by Polo in the eighth end gave the Americans the advantage until Rojeski couldn't properly replace the corner guard and the Swiss chipped it out. Rojeski used his second stone to freeze to the Swiss rock now in the back of the eight-foot, although that was not the intent. Schwaller followed him in with Fenson duplicating to grab a corner of the button for shot rock. Schwaller's final stone came to rest on the button, nearly frozen to the U.S. rock behind it. Fenson's was just an inch too short and the Swiss extended the lead to three points.

The U.S. caught a break late in the ninth end when things didn't seem to be going in their direction to profit. Schwaller's takeout attempt was foiled and Fenson had a chance on an open takeout for three to tie the game. Unfortunately, he didn't throw it very precise and after the hit, his shooter rolled out and on the exit removed his other stone in the back of the house for a heartbreaking single.

"I was a little straight with it, and it just ran. It was a straight spot on the sheet, and it ticked and rolled into our own. Bit of bad luck there as it took out our own. I just threw it poorly," Fenson said.

Any hope the U.S. had at setting up a two-point steal in the 10th to force an extra end was dashed when the Swiss second made a triple peel to open up the house.

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Pioneer staff reports
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