Winless American men curlers lose on last rock 

John Shuster apologized for his inconsistent shot-making, a performance that has all but doomed the winless American men curlers in the Olympics.

"I've let my teammates and USA Curling down," said Shuster, the usually dependable U.S. skip.

The Americans lost to Denmark 7-6 Thursday in yet another extra end. They are 0-4 and will need to win their remaining five matches in the round-robin schedule to stand any chance of reaching the semifinals.

"It hurts right now," U.S. lead John Benton said. "We're definitely on the way, way outside. Something magical would have to happen for us to make the medal round."

Added U.S. second Jeff Isaacson: "I would say a miracle."

The Americans needed a tense extra end for the third straight match and third in four overall.

Shuster missed a chance to knock out a Danish stone when his last rock jammed on another one of his own and kept Denmark in scoring position.

"He just threw it narrow," Benton said. "Afterward, he said, 'I'm just not making them, guys, sorry.' I don't know if he's rushing. That's a shot he's going to make 99 out of 100 times."

Shuster also had a chance for three in the ninth. But he managed to take out only one of the Danes' rocks because the Americans couldn't sweep another far enough away — settling for a single point. It proved costly.

"For sure. You don't want to be held to one there," Isaacson said. "You want to blank the end or score more than one. To walk away and only get one is tough."

Denmark used a timeout in the 11th with two U.S. stones touching the house before knocking one of those rocks into the button, or innermost circle. They still pulled it out.

No. 4 shooter Johnny Frederiksen acknowledged the Americans had the upper hand in the ninth, 10th and 11th ends.

"Pretty much an open hit on the last rock," Frederiksen said, referring to Shuster's final throw. "It's not that easy, but I think his chances were good on the last one. I'm really happy we just stuck in there and kept it going."

In the eighth end, the Americans had two stones in the house but Denmark knocked one out. That left Shuster to move the Danes' rock away with his final offering. But he left it too hard and wide right — just missing the outer edge of Denmark's stone to give the Danes a tying point. Basically, Shuster's rock didn't curl in far enough to make contact.

Shuster won a bronze medal at the 2006 Turin Games, the first American Olympic medal and first in a major competition since 1978. It doesn't look like he'll do it again.

"I've always said everything happens for a reason and for some reason it just apparently isn't meant to be," Shuster said. "If it was meant to be we'd be 3-1 right now instead of 0-4, having shots to win all of those games. We made those shots to get here, so it's disappointing."

Yet nobody in this foursome is finger-pointing.

"We win and lose as a team and nobody's faulting anyone," Isaacson said. "We're not putting blame on anyone."

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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