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U.S. Men Lose Curling Semifinal

Associated Press
Saturday, February 14, 1998; 6:46 a.m. EST

KARUIZAWA, Japan (AP) — There were be no Miracle on Ice for the United States men's Olympic curling team.

The Americans won a dramatic last-shot victory over host team Japan in a tiebreaker to reach the semifinals, then lost to Canada 7-1 in only eight ends today to drop into Sunday's bronze medal match.

The U.S. men had won three in a row just to earn the rematch with gold-medal favorite Canada, but fared no better than they did when they lost 11-3 to the Canadians in a robin-robin match.

In today's game, the Canadians took a 2-0 lead after the first end, then increased it to 3-0 when American skip Tim Somerville missed knocking out two Canadian stones with the final throw of the second end.

That was a bad omen for the Americans, who later missed a chance to get back into the game as Somerville missed a tap-out on the final shot of the end to allow the Canadians to score twice more in the sixth.

It was Somerville's perfectly placed game-winning tap on the final shot of the game that gave the Americans the 5-4 tiebreaker win over the Japanese, who were so anguished at losing they cried on the ice.

The United States, which will play the loser of the Norway-Switzerland semifinal in the bronze-medal match, was a longshot just to get into medal competition. The Americans have finished no higher than fourth in any world championship since 1993.

The Canadians are the dominant team in curling, having breezed through the round-robin with only a meaningless final-game defeat to Norway. Canada has won four of the last five world championships.

The first Olympic curling tournament also will produce Denmark's first Winter Games medal in any sport.

Denmark assured itself of a medal by defeating Sweden 7-5 in today's women's semifinals and will meet defending world champion Canada in the championship game Sunday.

Sweden will meet Britain, a 6-5 loser to Canada in a match that lasted 11 ends, for the bronze medal.

Denmark built a 6-2 lead after six ends before holding off Sweden. Canada, which has won four of the last five women's world titles, didn't defeat Britain until captain Sandra Schmirler placed the final shot of the 11th end inches inside the closest British stone.

Denmark lacks the winter sports facilities of its Scandinavian rivals Norway and Sweden and has never been a factor in the Winter Olympics. Denmark has only one curling rink and most of its curlers must travel across the border to Sweden to train.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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