American Men Rout Champ Norway in Curling
Feb. 13, 2006
PINEROLO, Italy (AP) _ The U.S. men routed the defending Olympic champions 11-5 in the opening game of the curling tournament on Monday, scoring a whopping five points in the eighth end and forcing Norway to concede with two frames to go.
It was tied 3-3 in the fifth when American skip, or captain, Pete Fenson knocked out a red Norwegian stone and left three yellow ones closest to the middle. Norway made it 6-5 in the sixth and was setting up for another three points in the seventh when U.S. vice-skip Shawn Rojeski executed a perfect three-stone takeout.
With an open target, Fenson threw long with his first stone and then intentionally threw his second through the house _ giving up an easy point to retain the last-throw advantage and try for multiple points in the eighth.
It paid off.
The Americans continued to bunch their stones in the target area, and Norway could do little to limit the damage. The United States had the six closest stones at one point and scored five _ a score about as common as a hole-in-one on the PGA Tour.
Down six with two ends left, Paal Trulsen walked over to shake hands and concede the match.
The U.S. victory avenged two losses to the Norwegians in last year's world championships, the second in the tiebreaker round that kept the Americans from having a chance to medal. But it was not quite an upset, either; in curling, as in baseball, one team frequently beats another one day and loses to the same opponent the next.
In other first-session action, Britain beat an overmatched but surprisingly persistent Italian team 7-5, Sweden beat New Zealand 6-3 and Switzerland beat Finland 7-2 in nine ends.
Italy is not one of the world's curling powers, but it gained entry into the tournament because as the host country. The British team is from Scotland, where curling was created about 500 years ago.
The Scots picked up three points in the second end to take a 3-1 lead and though Italy scored two in the third, it could never retake the lead.
Canada and Germany had byes through the first round.
Things didn't start off well for the Americans.
Fenson threw his first rock of the Olympics long and it went all the way through the target area, or house. His second shot was another gaffe, letting go of the handle too late _ after the boundary called the ``hog line'' _ and teammate John Shuster kicked the stone aside in disgust.
But the mistakes only gave Norway the expected one point in the first end, essentially holding serve. Fenson made a perfect knockout to pick up two points in the second end and give the Americans the lead.
In the third, the Americans were set up for two points unless Trulsen could get closer to the target on his last stone. But while it knocked away one U.S. stone, it slid too far and left Fenson's other a few inches closer to the house, good for a one-point steal that made it 3-1.
Trulsen made good the next time, clearing the Americans off the middle for two points, and it was all tied again.