After Three Losses, Team USA's Rich Ruohonen (Photo by Steve Seixeiro, World Curling Federation) Looking for a Rally.
By Price Atkinson
LAS VEGAS - It's been 10 years since Team USA skip Rich Ruohonen has been in this situation. He last played at the World Men's Curling Championship in 2008, ironically the last time the U.S. hosted the event (Grand Fork, N.D.).
Now Ruohonen will need to lean on his past experience on the World stage when he played for skip Craig Brown. After four games of round-robin play, Team Persinger now sits at 1-3 overall after winning their opening game of the Championship.
All three losses were games in which Team USA led late, only to come under up short.
"It's not like we are playing that bad - we're just missing one or two shots," Ruohonen said.
In other draw 4 action,
Yesterday on Easter Sunday, Korea stole one in the tenth end for a 7-5 win over Team USA before the Netherlands grabbed a 6-4 win over the Americans earlier in the day. The latest setback came in their first game today against Norway.
In a game where the lead changed hands several times, Ruohonen and crew took control in the eighth end after fourth Greg Persinger made two huge shots, including on his final rock to get Team USA's first deuce of the game.
It was a big answer and shot by Persinger after the Americans gave up a steal of one to Norway in the seventh. The deuce in the eighth set gave Team USA a 5-4 lead and put them back on track to finish the game out with a "W."
A successful ninth saw Team USA force the Norwegians to only one and a tie game at 5-5, getting the hammer back for the tenth.
"We knew we needed to force them to one and come home with the hammer tied, which we hadn't done that yet," U.S. lead Phil Tilker said. "It was really big. The ninth end we got in a little bit of trouble. But Greg made two clutch draws for us and we were able to get away with a single and now coming home tied."
Norway forced the action early and were lying two to put the pressure on Persinger to come up with another big draw on the game's final rock. Second Colin Hufman swept briefly about halfway down the sheet but then backed off. Persinger's rock slid just a bit too heavy to the back of the four foot and the Norwegians stole two and the 7-5 win.
"We knew it was warm out of hand, so we were right off it after maybe six or seven feet of sweeping," Tilker said. "I think in hindsight if Colin and I were right off it completely that rock might stop in time. Greg has been throwing some good draws but just happened to be a little heavy on the wrong one."
Everything setup perfectly and put Team USA in position to control the tie game with hammer in the final end.
"It's unfortunate because we played the whole game for that shot and it's three inches, four inches heavy but you gotta make those shots if you're going to win at this level," Ruohonen. "That's what you hope for - open draw to the four - and you gotta make it."
There's little time to regroup for the Americans with talented Scottish side Team Mouat coming up in the next draw at 4:30 pm (EST). The Scots had the morning off and will be looking to rid themselves of a narrow 7-6 loss to undefeated Sweden and Niklas Edin last night.
"(Scotland is) a good team. Norway is a good team. We had our opportunities to win that," Tilker added. "I'm sure if we play well then we'll have our opportunities to win against Scotland."