(VANCOUVER, British Columbia) - Korea's Haksung Kim shot just a little bit better than the U.S. to earn a spot in the gold-medal game against Canada. The U.S. will face Jalle Jungnell's Swedish team in the bronze-medal game. Both games are set for 3:30 this afternoon (PST).
The Americans left several points off the scoreboard as they weren't able to take advantage of key scoring opportunities in several ends. An unfortunate pick in the sixth end didn't help matters any.
"We came out in full force. We were focused on our game today, we just got unlucky. We've got to let it go," Perez said.
Korea took its first lead after stealing a single in the fifth end but the U.S. looked poised to put the game away in the sixth. With no guards to cause trouble and three rocks in the house, Kim made a takeout and left his stone in the scoring position with backing with the U.S. rock behind it. Perez had a chance for three if he chipped it out but his rock picked up some debris from the ice and got off course and over-curled. Instead of making a hit for three and taking a two point lead, the U.S. gave Korea one more.
"The rock picked. Our only pick of the week and it has to happen now. You could see it. It was a three point swing. After that I think we played them as tough as we could," a visibly frustrated Perez said.
Not wanting to mess up the single they had ensured in the seventh, Perez opted to throw the final rock away and settle for one as 14 of 15 rocks thrown to that point were in play either above or in the rings.
"We had some really good pressure on them and the momentum was right there, and we just couldn't grab it," McDonald said. With their backs against the wall, trailing by one without the last rock, the U.S. was unable to get a rock into the house in the eighth end as Perez's final raise attempt sailed through the back of the house to hand Korea the win and a chance to play for gold in their rookie appearance at the Paralympics.
"They are a really good team. They deserve to be there," Perez said about his opponent.
"Everyone was nervous because it was the semifinal but then we settled down and calmed down. Now, I am looking forward to the final," Kim said.
In the other semifinal, Canada's Jim Armstrong got off to a strong start and held off Sweden's Jalle Jungnell, 10-5, to try to defend the gold Canada won in 2006 in Torino, Italy, when wheelchair curling debuted as a medal sport.
Sweden fell behind 8-1 before generating some offense. After grabbing three points in the opening end, Armstrong missed wrecked on a guard in the second guard, allowing Jungnelll to try to make a hit for two but he couldn't convert. He used his final stone in the third to try a soft tap but Canada would still earn two more to take a 5-1 lead. A steal of three by Canada in the fourth and it was an uphill battle for the Swedes. They'd close the gap to 8-5 after scoring three points in the fifth and a steal in the sixth but it wasn't enough as Canada sealed the win with a deuce.
"We thought we were back in it. Jalle made two incredible shots. From ourselves, we thought we were back and Canada would shiver a little, but they didn't and I was very impressed [with Canada]," Swedish vice skip Patrik Burman said.
"At the end of the day, the Armstrong of old came out. I got that [the hammer] in my hand and it was a good weapon," Armstrong said.