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U.S. Women’s Curlers Fall to 0-3 for Games

February 14, 2006

PINEROLO, Italy (AP) _ The U.S. women’s curling team remained winless through three games after falling to upstart Japan 6-5 in extra ends on Tuesday night.

The Americans, silver medalists at the world championships and a medal contender in Turin, faced a big disadvantage in the 11th end _ or inning _ because Japan had the chance to throw last. But the problem was exacerbated when U.S. skip _ or captain _ Cassie Johnson missed the target completely with her final throw.

Japan needed only to put one in the target to win the game, and Ayumi Onodera did.

The Americans lost to Norway and Canada in their first two matches, and though they lost big they could legitimately argue that they started with two of the toughest opponents. But Japan was not expect to contend for a medal with the North American and Scandinavian curling powers.

With their third consecutive loss, the American women probably need to win at least five of their next six matches to have a chance at the semifinals.

The Americans might have had one chance with two stones to throw in the 10th end, but Johnson nicked a blocker and left three of Japan’s yellow stones in the target area.

In the other night matches, host Italy delighted the crowd by playing Denmark tough for six ends, before the Danes posted a three in the seventh and won 10-7. Canada needed its very last rock to beat Russia 6-5, a surprisingly close match.

Equally unexpected were Norway’s struggles against Switzerland, which needed just seven ends to coast to a 9-2 victory. A regulation curling match is 10 ends but a team can concede when a comeback becomes improbable.

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