Curling Concern? USA winless so far in Olympic competition

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- The Americans are still winless in Olympic curling -- a combined 0-5 through two days of competition. The frustration shows. John Shuster screamed at his rock to "curl!" then pounded his broom into the ice when...

Americans Nicole Joraanstad, left, and Natalie Nicholson, laugh during a break in a match against Germany during round robin session 2 of women's curling at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2010. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- The Americans are still winless in Olympic curling -- a combined 0-5 through two days of competition.

The frustration shows.

John Shuster screamed at his rock to "curl!" then pounded his broom into the ice when the stone didn't cooperate, giving Switzerland a 7-6 victory in an extra end Wednesday.

Earlier, skip Debbie McCormick's U.S. women's squad fell 6-5 to Germany in its second match. The team was unable to make up a two-point deficit in the final end after losing a tough one to Japan on an official measurement Tuesday.

"We play best with our backs against the wall," U.S. second Nicole Joraanstad said. "It's a position we've been in before. We're going to go out there and continue to play strong. It's a long time, it's nine games. Two losses doesn't knock people out of it. The wins are going to start coming our way."


The U.S. men rallied from an early four-point deficit before dropping to 0-3 with another tough loss after narrow defeats Tuesday to Germany and Norway.

McCormick's team again struggled at crucial times with the technical aspects of rock placement and shot-making.

"That's two losses, and it's going to put more pressure on us," she said.

Coach Wally Henry, McCormick's father and longtime coach, figures the Americans must win their next two to pull even through the first four contests in the nine-game, round-robin schedule. The top four advance to the semifinals.

Henry said it's too early to rule out the possibility of a medal.

"We have to get a couple of wins back," he said. "You can get through the round robin with four losses and still get in. Usually five losses puts you out. We've got a long way to get there."

But with plenty of strong opponents still on the schedule.

"We're a great curling team and we've won six in a row before," Shuster said. "And six in a row, it will be good enough. You can mark my words at 6-3 we will get into the medal round."


Switzerland tied it on a measurement -- the third of the match after the U.S. scored on the two others -- in the 10th after Shuster couldn't convert his draw. The Swiss were closer to the button by about a half-inch.

"We set ourselves up right where we wanted to be in the 10th end. We just didn't quite get there and in the extra end we had our chance," U.S. coach Phill Drobnick said. "We just have to go back and regroup."

The U.S. next plays Denmark on Thursday morning, while the women also will face Denmark in the afternoon.

Switzerland No. 4 shooter Ralph Stoeckli's final offering in the 11th took out two U.S. rocks.

"It was a great shot," Stoeckli said. "And still we needed to hope Mr. Shuster over there was going to miss with his last one."

Stoeckli said going to measurement gave his team a big lift.

"Oh, yeah, still alive, still alive," he said of what ran through his mind.

Shuster's team faced a 4-0 deficit through three ends, then Shuster secured a crucial deuce in the fourth to get his team on the board. The U.S. added a point in each of the fifth through eighth ends.


The Americans fell into a quick hole, giving up a deuce in the opening end and a point each in the second and third.

"It's definitely not an easy spot they're in losing their first three games," Stoeckli said.

McCormick's rink, or team, has an uphill climb as well.

The foursome fell behind 1-0 after the opening end but tied it in the fourth before giving up a three-spot in the fifth when they had been set up nicely but couldn't capitalize. McCormick and crew snacked on oranges during their short break after the fifth, then the U.S. got one back in the sixth and another in the seventh. For that point, McCormick stole one with a key draw through a port.

Germany scored a deuce in the eighth.

The Americans are set to play again Thursday afternoon against Denmark.

"We were just on the wrong side of the inch, but I do feel we played better than yesterday," McCormick said. "It was a big improvement from yesterday and we'll just build upon that."

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