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Olympic men's curling: USA frustrated in loss to Germany

United States curler John Shuster instructs his team as they play Germany. AP Photo/Marcio Sanchez

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- John Shuster shook his head, his frustration all too clear.

Shuster and the rest of his U.S. curling foursome could hardly complain about their chances against Germany. There were plenty of them in the team's Olympic opener, and the Americans failed to follow through in a 7-5 loss to the experienced Germans on Tuesday.

German skip Andy Kapp never even had to release his final rock. He took out two U.S. stones with his next-to-last throw to secure the victory.

The shot-making by Shuster & Co. wasn't nearly as good. Shuster liked his shot selection -- the rock just didn't curl the way he hoped.

"I had three rocks through the course of the game, or four rocks, that just didn't quite curl enough," Shuster said. "Any time you have that happen and end up giving up a steal instead of scoring two, it's a bad deal. The crazy part is we thought I threw them OK. It's one of those weird deals where you're very close."

In this sport, precision in throwing the granite stone is paramount, and a matter of mere inches can determine who wins. The Americans, ranked fourth in the world, get another chance Tuesday night against Norway but find themselves in an early hole.

"We're not going to look back, we're only going to look forward," said Shuster, whose lifelong buddy from tiny Chisholm, Minn., is vice skip Jason Smith.

While the Americans had their share of red, white and blue supporters in the stands at the 5,600-seat Vancouver Olympic Centre, it was the home fans who rocked this house for the opening day of competition.

Cowbells clanged and feet stomped as skip Kevin Martin and the favored Canadians had to go the distance to hold off Norway in their first match, winning 7-6 in an extra end on Martin's hammer throw.

Shuster, bronze medalist in Turin four years ago, considers his team a medal contender. Several players have hinted that more than three losses might be too many to reach the semifinals following the initial nine-game, round-robin schedule.

Tuesday, Feb. 16

Sweden 6, Britain 4

Canada 7, Norway 6

Germany 7, United States 5

Switzerland 6, Denmark 5

Canada vs. Germany, 9 p.m.

China vs. France, 9 p.m.

United States vs. Norway, 9 p.m.

Wednesday, Feb. 17

Britain vs. France, 5 p.m.

United States vs. Switzerland, 5 p.m.

Denmark vs. China, 5 p.m.

Germany vs. Sweden, 5 p.m.