comscore U.S. mixed curling squad rallies over Australia to open Winter Olympics | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Sports Breaking | Top News

U.S. mixed curling squad rallies over Australia to open Winter Olympics

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                Christopher Plys, of the United States, throws a rock during the mixed doubles curling match against Australia at the Beijing Winter Olympics today.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Christopher Plys, of the United States, throws a rock during the mixed doubles curling match against Australia at the Beijing Winter Olympics today.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                The United States’ Christopher Plys and Victoria Persinger compete during their mixed doubles curling match against Australia.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    The United States’ Christopher Plys and Victoria Persinger compete during their mixed doubles curling match against Australia.

BEIJING >> Chris Plys had never been to Beijing’s National Aquatic Centre, but he felt like he knew the place. On the wall of his office in Duluth, Minn., he has a signed photo of swimmer Michael Phelps at the 2008 Summer Olympics, racing to one of his eight gold medals in the venue called the Water Cube.

That building was rechristened the Ice Cube when it was designated as the curling arena for the Beijing Winter Games. Plys and his mixed doubles partner, Vicky Persinger, made their own mark there today. In the first event of the Beijing Olympics, they delivered a 6-5 victory over Australia to kick off the round-robin portion of the tournament.

The game was taut throughout. In Australia’s first-ever Olympic curling match, Tahli Gill and Dean Hewitt scored three points in the sixth end to grab a 5-3 lead. Persinger, who missed a double takeout in that end, converted that same shot in the seventh to pull the Americans into a 5-5 tie with one end remaining.

Though Australia had the advantage of throwing the final stone, Gill misfired, leaving the U.S. with the point it needed for the victory.

“We feel very fortunate to get out of there with the win,” Plys said. “Sometimes, a little luck can go a long way in tournaments like this. We’re excited to get the W and move forward.”

Great Britain, China and the Czech Republic also won opening-round matches today, as eight of the 10 teams got started on the six-day Olympic round robin.

The U.S. and Australia both felt relieved to get the tournament underway. Plys and Persinger, who traveled to China last week, had not thrown any rocks for a week and a half. The Australians had a close call before they even laid eyes on the arena.

Gill tested positive at the airport after arriving in Beijing, forcing her to quarantine for two days. She was cleared Monday to compete after she recorded two consecutive negative tests. Last month, the Aussies lost their coach, John Morris, when he was named to compete for Canada in mixed doubles.

Persinger was pleased to help get the Olympics started, giving everyone something to focus on other than COVID-19 tests. A few hundred people turned up to watch, with panda mascot Bing Dwen Dwen and a crew of bagpipers lending some atmosphere.

Plys said he was ready to play, but he also was nervous. That ramped up the drama, creating the kind of test he and Persinger expect to see throughout the Olympic tournament.

“That’s the best thing that could have happened to us, to get one we had to sweat out a little bit,” he said. “There’s not going to be any easy ones here.”

Visit startribune.com

Comments (0)

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Terms of Service. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. Report comments if you believe they do not follow our guidelines.

Having trouble with comments? Learn more here.

Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.

Be the first to know
Get web push notifications from Star-Advertiser when the next breaking story happens — it's FREE! You just need a supported web browser.
Subscribe for this feature

Scroll Up