Usually the words Fenson, Italy and bronze go hand in hand. But that wasn't the case four years after his historic moment at the Torino Olympic Games as Pete Fenson and Team USA will return home without a medal after losing to Scotland in the bronze-medal game today at the 2010 Capital One Men's World Championship.
"Partway through the week I told you that I was happy to be on our win streak and still be playing here this weekend. We would have liked a different ending," said the six-time U.S. champion and Olympic bronze medalist Fenson.
In the third showdown of the week between Fenson (Bemidji) and teammates Shawn Rojeski (Chisholm, Minn.), Joe Polo (Duluth, Minn.) and Tyler George (Duluth, Minn.) and Scotland's Warwick Smith rink, the Scots once again stole the final end to defeat the U.S. - eerily by the same score as yesterday's playoff meeting, 6-4.
"The ice straightened up a bit, and we didn't handle it as well as they did," Fenson said. "Warwick played great again, and you gotta play that way against these guys. You gotta play great in this type of game to win it."
The U.S. outplayed the Scots, shooting 84 percent to 77, but as it often does in curling, the last shot is the one that seals your fate. Tied 4-4, the U.S. had shot rock in the four-foot until Rojeski missed a peel and Scotland came down to remove it. As the end progressed, Smith used his final stone to cover the button and the Americans couldn't get the right angle on it to move it far enough away from the Capital One sponsor logo plastered over the button for the win.
"They thought it was heavy right out my hand and jumped on it and that threw it off. Another inch and we make it...maybe it was heavy," Fenson said.
"That was really tough," Warwick Smith said. "They're a good team and they hang on, you never really get away from them. They're one of these teams that manages to hook you, even if you're two ahead, they always manage to come back at you. I've been in his shoes (Fenson) in '98 and you just don't want to be there."
The whooshing sound of the extreme up-weight employed on the Scottish takeouts were all that could be heard at times in the quiet and rather empty Olympic Ice Stadium where a modest crowd of around 200 fans took in the bronze-medal game on Sunday morning at the Olympic Ice Stadium.
After the first two ends were blanked, some offense was surely going to occur in the third end as the U.S. took advantage of a miss by David Smith to stick a second stone in the house. Warwick Smith drew down to the back corner of the four-foot behind the corner guard but Fenson followed him in to freeze his stone to it. Smith followed his path to the button to earn a single.
With the last rock advantage in the fourth end, the U.S. tried to play the center guard to their advantage but the Scots met them shot for shot. It wasn't until Warwick Smith wrecked on the guard that the U.S. was able to get a second stone in the house. The way the stones were placed gave Smith the double takeout opportunity but he missed and Fenson drew for two points.
Scotland blanked the fifth end and got into trouble in the sixth when the U.S. was able to keep rocks scattered around the house. Smith drew around the center guard to sit on the button with his first toss. Scotland lucked out when Fenson's stone was a bit outside and hung in for second count, allowing Smith to tap it back just enough for a deuce.
Craig Wilson kept the momentum rolling for the Scots with two great shots to limit the efforts of the Americans in the seventh. David Smith jammed his takeout attempt, leaving the U.S. stone in the back four-foot. Rojeski drew the top side to balance out the four-foot. David Smith narrowly tapped it out so Rojeski followed him to take out his stone but couldn't get the roll behind the center guard. The skips exchanged hits but Fenson rolled out on his final takeout and settled for a single to tie the game, 3-3.
Lots of rocks were in play in the eighth end as the Scots got one in the side of the four-foot early and protected by stones in the top of the house. Rojeski was able to sneak to the button and David Smith missed his shot to allow Fenson to use his first stone to tap back the Scottish rock that had been bugging them all end and sit two. Smith threw a bomb down the ice but missed everything in his target. After some lengthy deliberation, the Americans opted to remove the lone Scottish stone in the four-foot to sit five. Smith's best option was a hit and roll to the button off of that rock but he couldn't roll it over enough, giving the Americans a steal of one.
The U.S. got stones in place in in the ninth end as well to pester the Scots with. Back-to-back misses by the Scots allowed the U.S. to to continue to protect their stones. David Smith helped the Scots with his second shot by drawing to the button to freeze on the U.S. stone behind the center guards for shot rock. Fenson, however, answered by freezing to the top of the stone Smith placed there to mold the Scottish rock to the button. Smith's first stone was a total loss as it slid to the back of the eight-foot so Fenson simply guarded. Smith's attempted circus shot to somehow earn two went nowhere as his stone barely made contact with the one he was going to angle off of and the game was tied heading into the final end.
The 10th end was going close to according to plan with George getting the shot rock in place behind the center guard with his first toss. Things would slowly unravel, however, when Rojeski missed peeling the guard. This gave Scotland the opportunity to remove the U.S. stone in the house and gain control of the four-foot when David Smith made the takeout and rolled behind the other Scottish rock in the top eight-foot. Rojeski peeled and Warwick Smith replaced the guard. With Fenson's first stone to draw the button but it sunk a bit too deep allowing Smith to follow him down and cover the button. Fenson's final stone was off target from the start and the U.S. didn't have a chance at pushing those to stones out to get closer to the button.
"It felt like we had things going our way, for sure. We made the draw-freeze in the ninth and things were going our way. We didn't finish out as strong as we'd have liked," Fenson said.
Canada's Kevin Koe rink will take on Norway's Torger Nergard rink in the gold-medal match at 4 today to conclude the event.
Game coverage from the U.S. games can be found on Universal Sports at www.universalsports/curlingwww.universalsports/curling .
Bronze-medal line score:
USA 000 200 110 0 4
*Scotland 001 002 001 2 6
*last rock in first end