|USA steals win from France|
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb. 19, 2010
USA men steal win from France at 2010 Olympic Winter Games
(VANCOUVER, British Columbia) - Desperate for a win, the U.S. coaching staff shook up the lineup and for the moment it paid off as the American men picked up their first victory Friday afternoon 4-3 over France at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games at the Vancouver Olympic Centre.
Chris Plys (Duluth, Minn.) was inserted into the skip position today with Jason Smith (Cape Coral, Fla.) throwing last rocks. Shuster was moved to the alternate spot but the team's lineup will be a game-by-game decision as the team tries to crawl its way up the standings into playoff contention.
"We made a decision to go with the four we had out there today, and the guys rallied behind it," Coach Phill Drobnick said. "I'm proud of the way they all represented their team and their country. John (Shuster) was a class act. He did everything possible to help the guys in practice. He was fist-pumping on the bench. He was influential in time outs."
With four games remaining in the round robin, the U.S. needs to carry this win streak through the next few days. Plys (Duluth, Minn.) and teammates Smith (Cape Coral, Fla.), Jeff Isaacson (Gilbert, Minn.), John Benton (St. Michael, Minn.) and Shuster (Duluth, Minn.) return to the ice at 9 a.m. PST against Sweden (3-1). After that they still need to play Canada (5-0), Great Britain (2-2) and China (1-3).
"The coaches made the decision and I stand behind my team," Shuster said. Asked if it was hard to watch from the bench, Shuster said: "No, it was new for me. Once the game got going though, it really wasn't that hard. We're a team of five players who spend basically every weekend together. We're like family, so it really wasn't that hard."
The Americans went down to the last rock once again but this time they were on the winning end when France's Thomas Dufour wasn't able to draw through a narrow port to out-count the U.S. Smith drew a perfect rock to the top of the eight-foot with his final rock of the 10th end to cause stress for the French skip.
The U.S. team played a consistent match, shooting 77 percent overall, with Plys at the helm.
"I am only 22 years old, but I have had an Olympic dream since I was a little kid, and to get out there and have a shot at it was exciting," said Plys, the 2008 world junior champion and four-time U.S. junior national champion.
In a low-scoring game, the U.S. team kept the game relatively less complex than day's past, paying consistently for 10 ends. Isaacson converted a triple takeout in the third end to halt what appeared to be a big end by France. They'd force the Frenchmen into a single in the fourth and tied the match when Smith made a draw into the four-foot in the fifth end.
France struck for a deuce in seventh but the Americans duplicated that feat in the ninth when Dufour wrecked on a guard to give the U.S. the opportunity to tie the game. Desperate to steal, the U.S. capitalized on a few misses by the French in the 10th to earn the team's first win.
San Francisco 49er Pro-Bowl tight end Vernon Davis, the team's honorary captain, was in the stands cheering on the team today and gave them a pre-game pep talk in addition to interviews with the media post-game.
"I think they played as a team. They really stepped up and took care of business today," Davis said. "I'm proud of them and proud of where they headed. They looked good, and they just stayed together."
NFL pro Davis was named the team's honorary captain in December after taking a curling lesson for a feature story the Associate Press was writing. He instantly fell in love with the sport and was asked by USA Curling to be the men's honorary captain. Davis also taped two public service announcements for the association to help grow the sport.
"it's my first time at the Olympics and it's quite an honor to be here. I appreciate them bringing me out here, and just the whole experience," Davis said. He'll take in the morning match as well before heading back to the U.S.
"I'm still learning. But you know what? I respect everything they do, the time and energy they put in," Davis said. "This is really a tough sport. I mean, you talk about football - you have your rough edges in the football business. But you really have to use a lot of strategy in curling, take your time and focus."
Live coverage of the curling action from Vancouver can be found on NBC's networks - USA, CNBC and MSNBC. Check your local listings to view the schedule. Live web-streaming of the action also can be found at www.nbcolympics.com.
Game scores: USA 4, France 3; Canada 10, Denmark 3; Germany 7, Switzerland 6; Norway 7, China 5
USA line score:
*France 000 100 200 0 3
USA men 000 010 002 1 4
*last rock in first end
Here is the two-day outlook for competition:
Saturday, Feb. 20 - 9 a.m. USA men v. Sweden; 2 p.m. USA women v. Great Britain
Sunday, Feb. 21 - 9 a.m. USA women v. Canada; 2 p.m. USA men v. Great Britain; 7 p.m. USA women v. Sweden
Great Britain 2-2
Great Britain 3-1
USA Curling is sponsored by AIT Worldwide Logistics, Nike, bitRail, Laphroaig Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky and is partnered with CurlingZone and Hilton Garden Inn Washington DC.
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