SOCHI, RUSSIA – The U.S. women’s curling team looked in control and had pinpoint placement early in its Olympic opener Monday.
Led by skip Erika Brown, the Americans led Switzerland 2-0 after three ends.
“We started off hot and they were kind of on their heels,” said Eden Prairie’s Allison Pottinger, the team’s alternate who watched from a perch above Sheet B at the Ice Cube Curling Center.
The Swiss took control midway through the game, however, and won 7-4 on the first day of curling.
Switzerland scored five points in the fourth and fifth ends combined, including a steal by skip Mirjam Ott in the fifth, to put the Americans on their heels.
“We executed really well the first three ends and put lots of pressure on them and were forcing them to make some big shots,” Brown said. “We had some good momentum. Just got caught in the fourth end. I think they must have made every shot. They really put the pressure on us and turned it around.”
The Swiss put the game out of reach in the eighth end as Ott executed a triple takeout, which enabled Switzerland to stretch its lead to 7-3.
“When we gave them an out for a double or triple [takeout], they took it,” vice skip Debbie McCormick said. “We knew that would happen. We really have to focus on rock placement and being really precise.”
The Americans also found that two of their stones didn’t curl as much as the others, which forced them to adjust on the fly.
“A couple of rocks were a bit straighter than the rest,” Brown said. “It’s just a matter of picking up on them and deciding who’s going to throw them and when. Sometimes rocks behave differently when you’re out there sweeping them than when you’re just sort of practicing throwing them. They behaved differently [Monday] than they have the last few days.”
The atmosphere inside the building was festive and unusually loud as Russian fans cheered for their team throughout a back-and-forth game against Denmark being played at the same time.
“It’s very loud,” Brown said. “We had to make some adjustments there just in terms of the way we communicate. [Tuesday] it’s going to feel normal, or more normal.”