The U.S. men’s curling team won five straight games, just like at the Olympics. But this time, at the world championship, they needed six straight to make the medal round.
A rink led by Greg Persinger finished sixth at worlds in Las Vegas over the weekend. The Americans overcame a 1-6 start to sneak into the playoffs, where they lost to eventual silver medalist Canada with a semifinal spot at stake on Saturday.
Sweden, skipped by Niklas Edin, took gold after being upset by the U.S. Olympic team skipped by John Shuster in the PyeongChang final. It marked Edin’s third world title to go with two Olympic medals.
Shuster’s team missed nationals last month as it promoted the sport nationwide following its Olympic stunner. In their absence, Persinger’s rink claimed the U.S. title to earn the world spot.
Persinger, a 40-year-old father of three, owns a Cold Stone Creamery franchise with his wife in Fairbanks, Alaska.
“We played every team that’s in the playoffs to the end. I mean you got your money’s worth with us. I think every game but against Edin, we went to the last rock,” team member Rich Ruohonen said, according to USA Curling. “We’ve got nothing to be ashamed of, and everyone knows we can play with the best in the world.”
Persinger’s team played just over 20 games together before worlds, according to USA Curling. Their five-game winning streak included a victory over Canada’s Brad Gushue, the defending world champion, but Gushue’s rink topped the Americans 6-4 in the playoffs.
Persinger and team members Colin Hufman and Philip Tilker played for skip Brady Clark at November’s Olympic Trials and finished in last place out of five teams, going 1-7 in round-robin play.
Ruohonen, 47, was an alternate for Heath McCormick‘s team that was runner-up to Shuster at trials.
Shuster’s team was fourth, third and fifth at the previous three worlds, the best string of U.S. men’s or women’s results at that level in a decade.
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