Curling Trouble: Winless USA Has No Room for Errors
VANCOUVER - Following five losses to begin Olympic play, the U.S. men's and women's curling teams are definitely on thin ice.
John Shuster's team rebounded from a 4-0 deficit but failed to hold a 6-4 lead against Switzerland on Wednesday afternoon, surrendering points in the final three ends of a 7-6 loss. It was the U.S. men's second loss in a row in extra ends.
That came after Debbie McCormick's team dropped a 6-5 decision to Germany on Wednesday morning.
Both USA teams are competing in 10-country round robins with the top four teams advancing to the semifinals based on record. Chances are it will take six wins to advance.
That doesn't bode well for the U.S. women, off to an 0-2 start. Canada, Germany, Sweden and Great Britain were all undefeated heading into Wednesday night's session.
It's even worse for the U.S. men at 0-3.
"Sometimes it feels like it's not meant to be," said Shuster, who didn't get the curl that he was anticipating on a possible winning shot in the 11th end after his rock to clinch the match came up inches short in the 10th. "But I've seen this team do amazing things to get here. Last year, we started the (Olympic) trials 2-3 and won six in a row. If we win six in a row here, we'll be in the medal round.
"I think we're all a little disappointed that we had shots in hand to win curling games, and we're 0-for-3 on those shots."
Like the men, the U.S. women have come excruciatingly close only to come up empty.
McCormick's team lost a measurement by a fraction of an inch on the final stone against Japan, then came up short, trying to recover from a 4-1 deficit Wednesday.
"I'm kind of baffled that we played this way," said McCormick, whose team scored once in the final end against Germany when it needed two points.
"We can't change it (the 0-2 start)," U.S. lead Natalie Nicholson said. "We don't go out there thinking we can't lose anymore. We just have to focus on what we can do."
Neither team could have envisioned being winless at this stage of the tournament, but neither is set to pack it in.
"I don't think anyone is going through this thing undefeated," said Allison Pottinger, U.S. women's vice skip. "There (have been) a lot of tight games. We certainly can't afford to have many more losses, but we will focus on the positives."
And McCormick said she has seen enough positives to remain optimistic.
"I feel like we're making progress," she said. "Everyone had better draw weight (Wednesday). It's a marathon, not a race. We know we need to get some Ws on the board. We're just going to stay focused and stay positive."
Shuster, whose team lost to Germany 7-5, then dropped a 6-5 heartbreaker to Norway in the 11th end late Tuesday, said his team will play like it has nothing to lose.
"We've had nothing to lose the whole time. Everyone here has been talking Norway, Great Britain and Canada (as the favorites), so we came in here with nothing to lose."
Both USA teams play Denmark today (men, noon ET; women, 5 p.m. ET).