Through Anchorage Daily News

Update: 2 hours ago Published: 12 hours ago

In a pair of matches with implications for the medal rounds, Alaskan Vicky Persinger and teammate Chris Plys pulled away, beating a strong Chinese team but losing to Canada in mixed doubles curling at the Beijing Olympics .

It was a familiar scenario for Team USA for the first half of the game against China. The teams traded runs and missed shots through the first four innings, coming halfway through the game tied 3-3. This pattern – relatively quiet first four ends, leaving the US and their opponents tied after four ends – was repeated in several of the team’s mixed doubles matches. In a biting trend for American fans, halftime was often followed by a more chaotic and higher-scoring second half.

In this regard, the game against China did not disappoint either. Round five saw both teams switch to a heavy take-out approach, with Plys landing precise shots of high weight. The blockbuster match fell apart for China on the last stone of the team’s end, when Fan Suyuan’s takedown attempt wrecked on a guard in front of the house, leaving a tie wide open which Persinger held. nailed down to give USA three runs and a 6-3 lead.

Round six proved equally messy, as both teams had a few half-timers and missed chances. An excellent double out from Plys limited the damage China could do, and the American duo opted to play defensively, giving up two points to regain last-rock advantage known as the hammer. Unfortunately, a few missed shots in the seventh end hampered the Americans’ ability to capitalize on that advantage, and they came away with just one point, taking a 7-5 lead in the eighth and final end of the game.

In the eighth end, Persinger and Plys gave a clinic, not even letting the door open for the Chinese team to take advantage and have a chance to tie the game. By piling stones on the halfway line near the button in the center of the house, the American curlers did such a good job of blocking possible shots from China that Fan opted to concede without throwing his last stone.

[Related: A hug, a wave, a big win for US curlers]

In the American duo’s next game against Canada, the second half pendulum swung the other way. Through four ends, as with China, the teams managed to exchange points in successive ends; halfway through the match, the score was tied at 2-2.

In the second half, however, Canada managed to turn up the heat, managing to steal a point apiece in the fifth and sixth ends. And in the seventh end, Canadians Rachel Homan and John Morris finally opened the game due to a rare miss from Persinger, who – like Fan in the game against China – wrecked on a guard with his last stone to award three points with an end to go.

With Canada up 7-2 and only five stones to go in the eighth end, defeat was a mathematical certainty for the US, and Persinger and Plys conceded. Their round robin record is now tied at 3-3 and they are tied for fifth with Norway overall with three games remaining; only the top four teams advance to the semi-finals and medal round.

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