Excellent execution and strategy from the Norwegian team combined with shaky shooting from U.S. skip John Schuster led to the U.S. suffering a 7–4 defeat in the Sochi Olympics Men’s Curling round-robin.
The Norwegians made almost all their shots and placed their rocks beautifully, stealing points when the U.S. had the hammer (final stone in the end) and blanking ends when they couldn’t score big.
The U.S. squad made some good shots but too often missed under pressure or left their rocks where Norway could clear them. Schuster seemed to have trouble analyzing the ice early in the match, so both weight and curl were sometimes off.
After a weak second end which saw it scored only one despite holding the hammer, the U.S. team gave up three in the third round, creating a 5–1 deficit. Norway blanked the fifth end to take control of the hammer in the final round, then scored only one in the sixth round as U.S. Skip Schuster’s strategy and shooting worked out.
Norway came back in the seventh end as good strategy and an inaccurate hammer from Schuster let the Norwegians steal a point. This gave the U.S. the hammer back in the final round but also left the U.S. curlers in a deep hole.
Norway’s strategy showed again in the eighth end when they laid three stones in the house separated by enough real estate that the U.S. could not clear them all. The U.S. squad had the hammer back but again had to settle for a single point.
Norway started the ninth round by clearing three U.S. guards with a single stone, then clearing both a guard and the U.S. scoring stone with another well-placed shot. Schuster, seeming to have figured out the ice, came back to nudge aside the Norwegian shot-rock. Rather than score only one, Norway blanked the end, which gave them the hammer in the final end.
The U.S. team needed a miracle in the final end, down three and with Norway holding final shot. “We have to go crazy at the end here,” Schuster told his team mates.
Accurate might have been better than crazy: Schuster missed everything with his first rock and had to concede the match as there was no way to win.