A couple of contenders faced off, while it looked more and more like the USA will not be among them.
Event: Day 2 of group play, with two women’s sessions and one men’s.
How U.S. fared: Russian curling fans are a bit like Clemson basketball fans. They may not fully understand what they’re watching, but they’re going to bring the noise. Erika Brown’s rink took three in the third end for a nice early lead, but Russia stole two in the fifth to go up 5-4. The rest of the way, Russia got two with its hammers while the USA got one. Final: Russia 9-7.
John Shuster and the U.S. men shot a bit better, but China made the big shots and the USA didn’t. A wayward Shuster shot in the third gave China a good shot for three, which they barely converted. Shuster seemed to be in good shape for a steal or only conceding one in the fifth, but China tossed a fast-moving stone that somehow dislodged all the U.S. rocks while leaving two Chinese rocks in scoring position.
The U.S. women came back to face Britain, one of the tournament favorites. In the fourth end, someone on the team said, “Maybe we can hold her to two.” Nope. They gave up seven. The USA gamely played two more ends but gave up three more in the sixth, then conceded a 12-3 decision.
– Morning session: Canada’s women could hardly have had a more emphatic win, trading doubles for singles with fellow contender Sweden before icing the game with three in the eighth end. Sweden conceded for a 9-3 final.
South Korea and Japan, not expected to contend, were tied 7-7 after seven ends. But South Korea scored two with the hammer, then stole one to put Japan in a big hole. With Japan needing a big three, South Korea instead stole two more to win 12-7.
Switzerland and Denmark had the game of the session, with each skip shooting a strong 85%. Switzerland had the hammer first, and with only one end blanked, they had it again in the 10th and won 7-6.
– Afternoon session: Other than the U.S. game, the men played some close ones. None was closer than the Canada-Sweden contenders’ showdown, where it all came down to one last shot in which Niklas Edin’s draw was just a hair closer to the center than the top Canadian rock. Sweden 7-6.
The last shot went the other way on another sheet, with Britain stealing one in the 10th to beat Germany 7-6.
The Norway-Russia game looked closer than it was. Russia needed four in the 10th end and got three for a 9-8 final.
– Evening session: The Britain-USA game was over early. So was Denmark-Japan, where Japan stole points in the second, third and fourth ends to take a 5-0 lead. They traded singles, then deuces, and then Denmark conceded down 8-3 after eight.
Switzerland scored two in the fifth and stole three in the sixth to take control against South Korea, which cut the lead to 7-6 but needed a steal in the 10th. Switzerland defended with the hammer and won 8-6.
Once again, the Russians played a dramatic encounter for the raucous home crowd. China led 6-4 into the ninth end but could only get one on a double takeout attempt, leaving the house open for Russia to score two and tie it up. But Russia missed a wide-open draw, leaving China in the lead with the hammer.
Russia did a nice job getting rocks in the house with guards out front. (Look, I can’t keep translating — you’re going to have to learn curling lingo.) But China made the clutch draw for the 7-5 win.