Wednesday, December 11, 2013

U.S. off to slow start at the Olympic Qualifying

Over in Fussen, Germany, the last two spots in the Olympic field are being decided this week. While you might expect to find some of the also-ran nations here vying for a spot, there are some countries with good curling programs and legacies in the battle.

Most notable, of course, is the U.S., bronze medallists in 2006. It really is hard to understand that the second biggest curling nation in the world -- in terms of numbers and facilities -- can't produce a really world-class men's team. No offence to all the Pete Fensons and John Shusters out there who are very good and work hard, but when was the last time an American men's curling team really was a threat to win a world championship? While European countries and Asian countries rise up the world ranking, the Americans just seem to struggle to get players and teams who can compete at a consistently high level.

Perhaps the Iceman, Al Hackner, who is working with the U.S. program these days, can bring some chops to the team.

Now the Yanks, led by Shuster and his gang, are over in Fussen and didn't get off to a very good start, dropping the opening contest to the Czech Republic yesterday. Here's a report from the World Curling Federation on the first round of men's play and another one for the women's. Surprising to see names such as Bingyu Wang and her Chinese team along with Germany's Andrea Schoepp (is she really the only woman curler in Germany capable of skipping a team or does it just seem like that?) in the field.

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