McFarland's Becca Hamilton

McFarland's Becca Hamilton sweeps the ice during a mixed doubles curling match against Norway's Kristin Skaslien and Magnus Nedregotten on Saturday.

The McFarland mixed doubles curling team of Becca and Matt Hamilton broke its four-game losing streak on Saturday but was officially eliminated from Olympic playoff contention.

The U.S. team stole eight points against Norway’s last shot over the final three of six ends and defeated Kristin Skaslien and Magnus Nedregotten 10-3 in Gangneung, South Korea.

Switzerland’s victory over South Korea, however, meant that the Hamiltons (2-4) won’t be able to climb back into one of the top four spots in the round-robin standings.

“It’s disappointing knowing that we are not going to move forward to the final four,” Becca Hamilton said. “But we can take away a lot from this experience. We know that we are capable of playing with the best in the world. We just didn’t do it this week.”

Losses to Canada, Switzerland, Korea and China after an opening victory over the Olympic Athletes from Russia sent the McFarland duo into the bottom half of the eight-team table. Only the top four make the semifinals.

Against Norway (4-2), one of the teams looking to secure a playoff spot, the U.S. had success without the hammer after falling behind 3-2.

Skaslien’s last shot in the fourth end with four American stones in scoring position was nowhere near the house, letting the Hamiltons take a 6-3 lead.

Norway was left chasing in the fourth by Matt Hamilton’s early shot. In the fifth end, he executed a triple takeout with his final shot.

“He was making his hits this game,” Becca Hamilton said. “I’ve never seen Matt hit and roll out as much as he did earlier this week. I think he was really connecting with the ice. I was really proud of his performance.”

The U.S. also stole one in the fifth and three more in the sixth before the Norwegians conceded.

Before turning to team competition, the Hamiltons closed their mixed doubles tournament on Sunday in seventh place after losing to Finland.

The duo couldn’t take advantage of opportunities to close out Finland at at the Gangneung Curling Centre.

“We missed a lot of the crucial shots when we needed to [make them]. It’s more going to be about capitalizing on mistakes from the other team when we move forward and knowing that it’s all about making the right shots and not all of the shots,” said Matt Hamilton, who plays second for the men’s Olympic curling team.

“I would say I am let down a little bit. But, I am not concerned at all going forward. I learned a lot on the ice that I am ready to take forward to my women’s team as well,” said Becca Hamilton, who plays lead for the women’s Olympic curling team.

The U.S. had a shot for three points in the opening end but didn’t hit the right side of the stone and ended up giving Finland a point instead. In the following end, the U.S. had a draw for two if they could reach the side of the button but were a few inches light and settled for a single.

The Americans got a rock buried in the four-foot to fluster Finland with throughout the third end. The final result was a single steal for the U.S. as they took their first – and only – lead of the game.

A great double takeout with Becca Hamilton’s final stone of the fourth end forced Finland to convert a takeout to score just a point. Finland countered with a steal in the fifth end as the Americans had no shot available to score so Becca Hamilton threw the final stone away.

The Americans used their power play in the sixth end but the first stone was heavy and swept out of the rings and the chance to score multiple points quickly slipped away. Finland used its power play in the seventh end and capitalized on a few miscues from the U.S. team to set up a big end in which they scored four points. The U.S. team wasn’t able to produce the same as they endured their fifth loss.

“It’s a tough stage to play on, but at the same time we were ready for it,” Matt Hamilton said. “We didn’t quite maximize on our opportunities. Hopefully, we’ll be able to move forward and join with our men’s and women’s team and really put on a good show for everybody.”

The Hamiltons will now turn their attention to the women’s and men’s team competition, which begins with practice Tuesday. The first draw of the round robin is set to follow Wednesday.

Biathlon

Madison-born Joanne Firesteel Reid paid heavily for missing seven of 10 targets in the women’s 7.5 kilometer sprint biathlon.

She finished 86th of 87 competitors Saturday in 26:18.8.

Reid is the daughter of Madison native and 1980 Olympic bronze medalist in speedskating Beth Reid. Her uncle, Eric Heiden, won five speedskating gold medals in 1980.

Biathlon combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. In the 7.5 kilometer event, there are shooting stops at 2.4 kilometers and 4.9 kilometers.

Germany’s Laura Dahlmeier won gold with perfect shooting and a time of 21:06.2. Norway’s Marte Olsbu was second and the Czech Republic’s Veronika Vitkova took third.

The top American was Emily Dreissigacker in 51st place.

Reid is also scheduled to compete in the 10 kilometer pursuit on Monday and the 15 kilometer individual on Wednesday.

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Dunn County News reporter

Laura covers local/prep sports as well as school-related and general news in Dunn County. She joined The Dunn County News in October 2016. She can be contacted directly at laura.giammattei@lee.net or (715) 279-6721.

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