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U.S. women curlers fall to Canada, Sweden

American Allison Pottinger shouts to teammates, Natalie Nicholson, center, and Nicole Joraanstad in a loss to Canada in women's curling Sunday. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- The American curlers made a lineup change and were much more accurate in their shooting. It didn't matter much -- fired-up Sweden was just too good on the heels of its first Olympic loss.

The U.S. women's foursome lost its second shortened game of the day Sunday, falling 9-3 to the defending gold medalist Swedes in nine ends after an earlier loss to Canada.

Anette Norberg's team was eager to play again after a surprising rout by Russia on Saturday. She looks at that loss as a positive now, just as she does her team's early defeat by Norway in Turin four years ago.

"We just wanted to get back on the ice again after yesterday," Norberg said. "This was our best one so far, because of what happened yesterday. It's not good to have everything rolling."

The Americans still struggled after making a switch, though they were much more accurate. Fighting back tears earlier in the day, U.S. skip Debbie McCormick pulled herself out of the fourth position after the morning loss and threw third stone in another tough one. Vice skip Allison Pottinger shot last rock.

They will stick with that lineup for their final two matches Tuesday following a day off Monday.

Henry is McCormick's longtime coach, and they have always worked hard to keep their personal relationship off the ice. He said McCormick's teammates embraced her team-first gesture, and he thinks it will take some pressure off the three-time Olympian until she gets her feel again.

"She's disappointed, and we feel strongly she will pull out of it," Henry said. "She's been struggling all week with her draw weight. We're working on the draw weight. It just seems to leave her at the wrong time."

The Canadian women's curlers made quick work of McCormick and Co. in the first game, winning a shortened seven-end match.

The Americans never found a groove against Sweden, either.

"Percentage wise we did a good job. We just got outplayed tonight," Pottinger said. "They played great. I can't remember too many that they missed."

McCormick came out to the venue for extra practice Saturday night but still couldn't pull out the big shots Sunday when she needed them. Henry said many of the shots are getting the wrong speed.

Although the men's team benched skip John Shuster for Friday's win over France, moving McCormick out of the last spot has never happened with this close-knit foursome before.

"Obviously that means I'm not playing up to my potential right now," McCormick said. "That's the only thing that's hard about it."

Cheryl Bernard scored four points in the third end after the Americans had gone ahead with one in the second. The Canadians left three stones in scoring position before Bernard's final offering was just right -- after also taking out a U.S. stone.

Bernard shook her head in delight when she nailed her shot in the third, yet another big one for the Canadian captain. Canada looked fresh playing after a day off Saturday.

This was a rare blowout for Canada. Bernard already had two extra-end victories and two others in the 10th when she had to nail her final throw.

"It felt good to get that lead and mentally not have to be throwing tense," she said. "Some of these games you leave with a headache, so today felt really nice to leave with a nice, confident game."

Bernard said she, too, would take herself out of the final position if it ever came to that.

"It's very classy for Deb," she said. "That gets me choked up because I think that's a tough thing for her to do. She's a great player. I think her team, they believe in her 100 percent, and she's just trying to do what's best for her country."