OGDEN — The U.S. men's junior curling team could be on its way to its first world championship. With Wednesday's defeat of Denmark and Canada's loss to Scotland, the American team moved into first place in the round-robin competition. Both the United States, 7-1, and Canada, 6-2, have secured their berths in Saturday's semifinals.
"They are playing with more patience than in years past," said Rick Patzke, communications director for USA Curling. "They just feel they always have a chance and they don't have to rush."
This most likely comes with maturity, as the Andy Roza rink (curling term for team) is three-time national champion. The only team so far this year to beat the Americans is the Germans, who are 3-4 in the bonspiel (curling term for tournament). Several other men's teams are still vying for playoff spots and will be competing in tie-breakers Thursday and Friday
The U.S. women's junior team have struggled during the 10-day tournament, which began March 15. After losing to Japan 13-3 last night, they were eliminated from playoff contention.
"We know we are so strong," said Kirsten Finch, a U.S. team member. "We never had a game where we all got it together."
Speaking with some emotion as this is her last junior world, Finch said "you earn the right to be here and represent your country."
"They haven't really been sharp at the same time," Patzke said of the Americans' struggles. "It just kinda seems they haven't got it together at the same time."
Canada, Sweden and Switzerland have all secured playoff spots, with several other teams still vying for tiebreaker openings.
The women's semifinals are at 5:30 p.m. Friday, the women's bronze medal game is at 1 p.m. Saturday, and the women's finals the same day at 5 p.m. The men's semifinals begin at 1 p.m. Saturday, the men's bronze medal game is 9 a.m. Sunday, and the gold medal game is at 1 p.m. Sunday. The public is invited to the closing banquet at Union Station in Ogden. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at Smithtix or at The Ice Sheet ticket booth.