By Matt Gephart
GANGNEUNG, South Korea — The US Curling Team has found themselves frozen at a standstill in the rankings after a third day of Round Robins in PyeongChang.
The first Round Robin of day 3 versus Finland started out with two straight scoring ends for the US Team, taking a 2-0 lead. Going into the third end, the US left their first five shots light on the sheet before landing a stone in the house. At the conclusion of the end, the Finish Team had added 4 stones to their score to take a 4-2 lead over the US Team.
Going into the fourth end the US Team held the hammer, but just missed the opportunity to use it as an advantage and take the lead, only tying the Finland Team at 4-4 after four ends.
Stealing the next end, the Fins found a lead once again, in favor of one stone, before being tied with the US Team after the 6th end 5-5.
Tension was building between the two teams, who have had a tough time finding their way out of the bottom of the rankings, holding only one win each coming into this round. The US Team threw a few mishaps in the final two ends, misplacing a few stones in key moments to drop the match to the Finland Team with a final score of 8-5.
The second match of the day found the US Team plotted against the Neutral Paralympic Athletes (NPC) Team, who came into the Round Robin with just two wins.
The US Team showed confidence in their shots in the first end, keeping up with the NPC Team and showing that glimmer we remembered from the Sochi Paralymics in 2014. A nice double take-out mid end was a high energy moment only to be taken away by a mere miss on the hammer of the end, leaving the NPC with a 1-0 lead on the US.
Over the next four ends the battle continued, lead change after lead change, with the NPC scoring one point in each of the four, bringing their lead to 5-0, but the US Team was not done for the day. They fought back stone by stone, cutting down the lead to one stone, landing 3 in the house for end 6, and 1 in house in end 7. The final end was left for the taking, if they could have it.
Leading off the end was Penny Greely, landing the first stone in the house for the US Team. After the NPC Team sent their first stone through to the back board, the US Team set up two guards to careen the NPC into using stones for takeouts. The strategy worked and the US was able to neutralize the house with a curled stone behind a guard that was left. On the US Teams’ 7th throw they took a one stone lead they hoped would be enough to tie the end, but the NPC Team just missed a double takeout on their next throw to take back the advantage.
On the last crucial shot, the US Team failed to takeout a stone belonging to the NPC from the house, leaving the final score at 6-4, and bringing the US Teams record total to 1 win and 4 losses.
The next match ups are against the top team China, and the Canadian Paralympic Team of PyeongChang 2018.