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US Is 0-3 in Olympic Curling Debut

February 9, 1998

KARUIZAWA, Japan (AP) _ The United States men’s and women’s teams both lost to defending world champions today as curling, a sport rarely seen or understood by most Americans, debuted as an Olympics medal sport.

The U.S. men lost to Sweden 6-2 despite leading 2-1 late in the match. The U.S. women fell to Canada 7-6 and 8-5 to Sweden.

Also in men’s play, Canada beat Japan 7-4, Switzerland defeated Germany 7-4 and Britain was a 4-2 winner over Norway.

In the other opening games of women’s round robin play, Sweden beat Norway 8-2, Britain defeated Japan 7-5 and Denmark beat Germany 6-5. In later games, Norway upset Canada 6-5, Japan routed Germany 9-3 and Denmark was a 9-3 winner over Britain.

The U.S. men played a defensive style and led 2-1 in the eighth end _ or inning _ of the 10-end match. But Sweden scored twice in the ninth and three more times in the 10th.

``The Americans played a little more defensive than we expected,″ Swedish captain Peter Lindholm said. ``Therefore it was very close and the last end was the top one.″

The U.S. women had a chance to tie or go ahead in the ninth end of its match against Canada, but team captain Lisa Schoeneberg threw poorly on her final throw.

``It (the ice) is really quick and I thought on my last shot I was coming out smooth, but the rock just kept on going,″ she said.

Canada has won 24 of the 39 men’s world championships, including 11 of the last 16, and four of the last five women’s titles.

In its later match, the U.S. women fell behind Sweden 3-0, caught up by scoring three times in the fifth end, then saw the Swedes open a 7-3 lead by scoring twice in each of the next two ends.

Curling was a demonstration sport six times previously, beginning in 1924, until gaining medal status this year. It is very popular in Canada, where it is nationally televised on Saturday afternoons, but in the United States it is played mostly in upper Wisconsin.

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