Thursday, April 11

A hug, a hello, a big win for American mixed doubles curlers

BEIJING – American mixed doubles curlers Vicky Persinger and Chris Plys survived an extra final against Sweden to score a much-needed win at the Olympics on Friday, hugging each other quickly and then finding two friendly faces to say hello in a far corner of the room. eerily quiet and mostly empty Ice Cube.

Masked faces, of course, but definitely friendly faces. Persinger and Plys were pretty sure they were waving at team psychologist Carly Anderson and dietician Kaela Colvard, who were among the few spectators to watch the Americans win 8-7 in the round-robin competition to match their record for 2-2.

“It’s hard to tell with the masks on. I think it was our sports psychologist and our dietician who were in the stands,” Persinger said. “They’ve been our team around our team and they were cheering us on, especially coming back after a two-loss day.”

Every little bit helps at these Games, which are being held in a bubble environment due to COVID-19. That means the family can’t attend. With few spectators allowed, it’s a very different atmosphere from the 2008 Summer Olympics, when a raucous crowd watched Michael Phelps win a record eight swimming gold medals at the same venue, then called the Water Cube. .

“We can’t even say enough good things about Carly, our sports psychologist, Kaela and our entire team,” Plys said. “It’s been tough on everyone. It’s been tough on them, but they’ve kind of taken a back seat to the way they’re feeling and they really made sure they took care of us and were in a good place to keep playing.”

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The win moved the Americans into a tie for fifth with China and the Czech Republic in the 10-team field. After the round robin, the top four teams advance to the semifinals.

It also put Plys and Persinger in high spirits heading into the opening ceremony a few hours later, when they would follow men’s vaulter and defending gold medalist John Shuster, the first curler voted to carry the American flag, to the Bird’s Nest. .

“Hell yeah, man, it’s going to be amazing,” said Plys, a two-time Olympian who is also on the men’s team. “Before we left for this trip, being able to walk into ceremonies was already going to be a highlight. Being able to do it with my teammate holding a flag, it’s going to be a night to remember. I’ll probably have the phone strapped to my chest just so I can absorb it all and be there and enjoy that experience with all of our teammates.”

The Sweden-USA game was the last of Friday’s four games to finish. The teams traded leads across all eight ends, including Sweden jumping ahead after a 3-pointer to go up 5-4 in the sixth and the United States coming back with a 3-pointer in the seventh for a 7-5 lead. . Sweden tied it in the eighth and the Americans won it in the ninth. Plys had a great shot that cleared two Swedish stones from the house.

“It’s just as exciting for us as it is for people back home,” Plys said. “I over-swept Vicky’s to give them a shot at three, but I went down to the other end and it was like, ‘Let’s get it back.’ That’s mixed doubles curling. You don’t see it as much in men or women, but mixed doubles, man, it’s volatile and the changes are crazy and a lot of times it’s which team can better manage their emotions through those changes.”

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The Americans lost twice on Thursday.

“We relaxed a little bit,” Plys said. “We had a talk before in the locker room before, we had some good jams and we decided that we were going to forget about all the pressure and everything that happened yesterday and play for each other and play for our families and just have as much fun as we can for there”.

Italy moved to 4-0 with a 10-2 victory against the Czech Republic. Australia, making its first appearance in Olympic curling, remained winless after losing 9-8 to Great Britain in an extra final.

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