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Wednesday, February 20, 2002
 
Switzerland pops U.S. 9-4 to advance

Associated Press


OGDEN, Utah -- U.S. women curlers will play Canada for a bronze medal after losing 9-4 to Switzerland in an Olympic semifinal.

US Women's Curling
Deborah McCormick of the delivers a stone for the Americans, but they ended up losing 9-4 to Switzerland in the semifinals.

The Americans will face the defending Olympic champions, who were 6-5 losers to Britain in the other semifinal Wednesday. The Swiss and Brits will meet in the finals. Both matches are Thursday.

"We wanted to make the final four," said Kari Erickson, the American skip, or captain. "To get a bronze medal will be a great way to end this."

Getting this far is a surprise for the U.S. team. It's a disappointment for the Canadians, who lost only once the preliminaries. Curling is arguably the second biggest sport in Canada behind hockey and the team's stars have agents and endorsements.

"We came here as a very strong country in curling. And when you're from Canada, you expected to get gold," said Canadian Julie Skinner.

In the men's semis on Wednesday, Canada advanced to the gold-medal game Friday with a 6-4 victory over world champion Sweden. The Canadians will play Norway, 7-6 winners in extra time over defending Olympic champion Switzerland.

The American women, winners of four consecutive matches after starting 2-3 in round-robin play, conceded their semifinal after nine ends -- or innings -- when Switzerland scored three in the ninth on a shot by team skip Luzia Ebnoether.

Erickson had led the Americans to a 3-3 tie at the end of the fifth, but Switzerland soon added three more to make it 6-3.

"At the end of the eighth we decided to draw for one and try to steal the game in the ninth," Erickson said. "It was a good choice for us, but it didn't work."

In the other women's semifinal, Britain defeated defending gold medalist Canada 6-5 with Rhona Martin putting in an easy stone with her final shot in the 10th end. Canada had beaten Britain 9-4 in a round-robin game.

Canada tied it with single points in the fifth and sixth but Britain scored another two in the seventh to go up 5-3. Canada again scrambled back with singles in the eight and ninth but that was just good enough to go into the 10 tied at 5 before Martin's game-winning shot.