After a Rocky Start, the US Team Hopes for Medal Contention

By Matthew Gephart

SOCHI, Russia – Day three has come and gone for the American Wheelchair Curling Team and not much has changed here for them, including their record, with only one win for the competition at Sochi.  The US Team comes against its hardest competition in the form of the reigning Wheelchair Curling gold medalist Canadian team, followed by their sixth session versus the Russians.

The morning started out against the Canadians who have been phenomenal this year in Sochi as expected, having an undefeated record coming into the fifth session in the Round Robin.

The US once again had placed the initial stone closest to the button to gain the hammer for the first end, but was still unsuccessful in scoring any points, giving up one stone to the Canadian Team.  This seems to be a recurring problem for the US Team, giving up points while they have the advantage and not playing aggressively enough on the sheet, which we will see even more evident later in the day as they face Russia.

The second end went in favor of the US Team allowing them to tie the game, placing one stone, even without the hammer.

It had seemed that the US was starting to gain some traction on the sheet and in the third end things were looking pretty good for the US Team before Canadian Skip, Jim Armstrong, was able to draw a perfect stone around the US guard and place a stone right at the button to force the US to complete a raise, where they were only able to takeout one opposing stone and leave two behind to make the score 3-1 in favor of the Canadians.

The US had the hammer once again in the fifth end but was again unable to capitalize, while they gave up two stones to the Canadians, bringing the score to 5-2

Missing a chance to score one stone in the sixth round and cut the lead, the US sailing their chance straight through the center of the button and missed their mark leaving the score 6-2 in favor of the Canadians.

One last end was all the Canadians needed to concede the US Team in the seventh end, finishing off the morning for the Round Robin session with a final of 7-2.

Starting off the sixth session of the Round Robin the US Team found themselves plotted against the Russian Federation Team and their unruly fans.

Gaining the hammer yet again in the session, the US was unable to score over the Russians leaving two stones behind.  The support for the Russian Federation, as you can guess, was a huge turnout making the US Team seem like they were only supported by a miniscule collection of Americans.  From the volume alone in the Curling Center it had sounded like the US fans were outnumbered 100:1.

The second end did not go in favor of the United States either, dropping one more point to the Russians and leaving the score 3-0.

Finally the US was able to drop a stone closest to the button and score one point in the third end, using the hammer to their advantage this time around.  The next end was not an easy one to swallow for the US, as they missed an opportunity to gain some ground and take some points from the Russian team.  Two well placed stones were taken out by Russian Skip Andrey Smirnov, leaving two Russian stones in play and bringing the score to 5-1 making the outcome look bleak for the US Team.

Having the hammer again in the fifth end the US was able to place one stone closest to the button and make the score 5-2, putting the team right back into the session.   Unable to score against the Russians in the sixth end giving up one point, the last two ends were a completely different story.  Scoring one stone with the hammer in the seventh end, the momentum had shifted to the US Team going into the final end of the session with a score of 6-3.

After finding themselves within reach of a tie by placing three stones in the center rings with guards in place, the US left one exposed to the Russians final shot of the end.  To a roaring crowd the Russian Team was able to takeout one of the United States’ three stones to put the tie out of grasp, and leave a final of 6-5 in favor of the Russians, just about disqualifying the US Team for a medal contention in the Round Robin.

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