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U.S. Women End 2-5 in Olympic Curling

Thursday, February 12, 1998; 11:07 p.m. EST

KARUIZAWA, Japan (AP) — Denmark is one curling victory away from its first Winter Olympics medal in any sport. The United States women's team is simply out.

The American women finished 2-5 in the first Olympic women's tournament despite beating Japan 10-2 Friday (Thursday night EST) in its final round-robin match. They tied with Japan and Norway for fifth place, only one ahead of last-place Germany (1-6).

Denmark is the story of the women's tournament so far, beating Norway 8-3 to finish the round-robin phase 5-2. The Danes will play Sweden (6-1) in one semifinal Saturday, with defending world champion Canada (6-1) playing Britain (4-3) in the other.

Denmark qualified despite lacking the mountains and winter sports facilities of its Scandinavian neighbors Norway and Sweden, which have long been powers in the Winter Games. Denmark has only one curling rink -- and that has only one sheet of ice.

Most of the Danish players practice in Helsingborg, Sweden, about 90 minutes from their homes.

The American women had nothing to play for in their final match, having already been eliminated from medal consideration. They led 5-0 after the fifth end and the Japanese conceded after the eighth end. Most matches last 10 ends.

Also Friday, Sweden beat Britain 8-5 and Canada held off Germany 8-5 despite trailing 4-2 after five ends.

The American men also are in danger of being eliminated. To reach the semifinals, they must beat Britain (2-4) on Friday, then hope Switzerland (4-2) defeats defending world champion Sweden (3-3) and Germany (1-5) beats Japan (2-4) to finish in a tie for the fourth spot.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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