After losing six straight, USA's Team Persinger (Photo by Richard Gray, World Curling Federation) gets a much-needed win over Germany to stay alive in the World Men's Curling Championship.
By Price Atkinson
LAS VEGAS - Team Persinger was in need of a win. Badly.
After losing six in a row, four of which came on steals in the last end, the Americans got the "W" this afternoon at the World Men's Curling Championship. Team USA knocked off Germany 8-5 to end the skid and improve their round robin record to 2-6 overall.
"It feels pretty good to get a win - finally," fourth Greg Persinger said. "This wasn't even our best played game. We have played a lot of good games this week. To finally come out with a win feels pretty nice."
No, it definitely wasn't Team USA's best game of the week but no matter how, they needed the taste of victory and got it today. Ironically, the team curled its best this week in the four games lost in the final end.
"We just need to play like we know we can," skip Rich Ruohonen said. "It's tough when you lose those two games (on Monday) the way we lost them."
It was indeed a bitter pill to swallow and for the first time this week, Team USA didn't play well in a 7-2 loss to Sweden yesterday. Hoping to comeback strong this morning against Russia, the Americans gave up a deuce in the tenth to fall 7-6 after clawing back from a 4-1 deficit after the fourth end.
"That loss doesn't hurt near as bad as the losses against Norway and Scotland because we played a lot better in those games and thought were deserved to win them," lead Phil Tilker said. "If you don't play well against any of these teams here, you're gonna get beat."
The bleeding finally stopped this afternoon thanks to a strong game from Persinger who curled at 84 precent, including an incredibly strong second half against the Germans. As soon as Germany's final shot missed giving Team USA the win, you could see a collective exhale from the four Americans on the ice.
"It's huge - I'm not going to lie - because it's been a long time. We're really happy," Ruohonen said.
Right after the game, Team USA took their win and fun poolside to the Orleans Hotel and Casino Pool Patch for their autograph session and "up close and personal" Q&A on stage.
Alternate Chris Plys was asked his popular pectoral in the Men Of Curling Calendar and even let Ruohonen know he was too old to appear in the 2019 edition. Ruohonen reminded Plys that Photoshop can do wonders for a man's body.
Speaking of a man's body, that's exactly what Seattle native and Granite Curling Club member Steve Birklid had Team Persinger sign at the autograph table. Close friends with the team, including Tilker and Colin Hufman, Birklid came decked out in a tight American speedo with all his glory.
Unlike Birklid who'll almost assuredly be lounging poolside tomorrow in his USA speedo, Team Persinger heads back to work with a 4:30pm ET matchup followed by a primetime game against the crowd favorite Canadians led by Brad Gushue.
Tomorrow night's USA-Canada game is being billed as "The Battle of the Fans" and as more fans come into town for the weekend, Orleans Arena should be rocking for the North American tilt. Especially after Team Shuster knocked off the Canadians twice at the most recent Winter Olympic en route to the gold medal.
In the meantime, the Americans will look to build off today's win over Germany before the doubleaheader tomorrow against Italy and Canada.
"We just have to keep doing what we've been doing," Hufman said. "Today and last night we just didn't plAy very well. We just need to re-focus and make the shots we know how to make."