SOCHI, Russia (AP) — The Americans are on thin ice heading into day three of the curling tournament at Sochi Olympics.
A combined 0-5 record — mirroring their start in the Vancouver Games four years ago — has left the men's and women's teams desperately needing a victory on Wednesday not just to boost morale but to stay in contention for the semifinals.
Erika Brown's rink is in a particularly perilous situation after losing its opening three games. It simply can't afford to go down to China in the afternoon session.
"I think every championship I have been at, or watched on TV, there's always been a team that had a bad start and went on a run," Brown said. "We're going to focus on that and make that us."
The men's team, skipped by John Shuster, is 0-2 after defeats by Norway and China. Then again, that's just normal for a rink that often makes life uncomfortable for itself.
Take the Olympic qualification event in Fuessen, Germany, in December, for example. The U.S. was struggling at 1-2 but ended up winning five straight games to earn its place in Sochi.
"It's kind of our thing," said U.S. player Jeff Isaacson of Gilbert, Minn., "We often don't get off to the best start that we need to. We dig a little hole and get a couple of losses. We've done it many times."
The American men play Denmark in the morning session and have a bye in the evening.
One of Wednesday's highlights should be the game between likely gold-medal contenders Britain and Canada in the women's tournament — if their latest performances are anything to go by, anyway.
Britain is buoyant after setting an Olympic record by scoring seven points in one end in its 12-3 win over the U.S. on Tuesday.
Canada, led by red-hot skip Jennifer Jones, has crushed China 9-2 and Sweden 9-3 in successive games that didn't even go beyond eight ends.
It's the battle between the two hotbeds of curling, and potentially a trial run for next week's final.
"It's always a big one isn't it — Great Britain vs. Canada," British skip Eve Muirhead said.
While the Canadian women — and in particular Jones — are in form, the same can't be said of the country's stuttering men's team.
Brad Jacobs' rink came to Sochi as an overwhelming favorite, but doesn't appear to have got fully used to the ice conditions and has lost narrowly to both Sweden and Switzerland already.
With a 1-2 record, Canada doesn't want to even contemplate losing to winless Russia in its only match Wednesday.
"We are getting better every game — that's a good sign," Jacobs said. "We are really close to where we want to be."