Written by Matt Gephart
SOCHI, Russia – Day one has come to a close here at the Paralympics center stage for Wheelchair Curling. It was not a good day for the US team, dropping two losses in the first round robin session at the Ice Cube Curling Center.
The team kicked off the event early on Saturday, opening up the competition against Slovakia. After losing the first end by two stones and the second end by one stone, the team began to gain a little traction for the next two ends, scoring one point for each round and drawing the lead down to one. The effort was cut short during the fifth and sixth rounds losing a point each round to the Slovakians, who increased their lead to three.
One final push was made during the seventh round when the US team was able to place two stones and bring the session to 5-4 in favor of the Slovakians.
Going into the final end, hopes were high for the US team, coming back from a three stone deficit and feeling the win within grasp. After all was said and done, the Slovakians were able to place one stone to make a final score of 6-4 in favor of Slovakia.
For the United States’ second session of the day, they were plotted against the Korean Team, who won the silver medal during the last Paralympics in Vancouver in 2010. Coming into this year’s Paralympics the Korean team is ranked sixth in the world, making this quite a duel and a bit more of a challenge for our US team. The expectation for this session versus the Koreans was a giant question mark after they were blanked by Norway during their first session. Norway is said to be the favorite for gold this year, and faces the United States during their third session of the round robin.
Korea came out on all cylinders placing three stones in the first end but none in the second end where the US was only able to make up one point on the scoreboard. The third end went to Korea, again placing three stones putting them ahead of the US team by five points.
Now it was the US Teams end to shine, and despite not having the hammer for this end, they were able to place an astounding three stones closest to the button. This brought the score to 6-4 in favor of the Koreans, but not out of reach for the US Team.
Despite having a great fourth end, hammer in hand, the fifth end did not go as planned for the US. Korea was able to place two stones after a mere miss by the US Team trying to split two stones from the center ring, bringing the score to 8-4.
Again finding themselves trying to fight from behind, the US was able to gain just one stone in the sixth end bringing the score to 8-5 with two ends left in the session.
All eyes were on the US Team as they once again had the hammer for the seventh end. Despite their efforts, they were unable to place any stones inside Korea’s one point bringing the team to concede the eighth end, and surrender another loss to the competition, bringing the current record to 0-2 for the Paralympics.