Published February 23, 2010
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Dan Rafael guarded his every word. His star Chinese curler, Wang Bingyu, wouldn't say anything at all.
World champion China converted its final shot of the 10th end for the winning point Tuesday, mathematically eliminating the U.S. women's curlers with a 6-5 victory and moving into Thursday's semifinals as the No. 3 seed.
China (6-3) will face defending gold medalist Sweden (6-2) in a rematch of the 2009 worlds won by this Chinese team of former skaters.
Wang's last rock was right on target. Her team bounced back after being thumped by Russia 7-4 in a shortened nine-end match Monday. That prompted Rafael — who is from Canada — to say he would step down once his contract expires June 30. There is a women's and men's world championship to coach until then.
He also said his team had no passion. He said Chinese officials have asked him to keep his opinions to himself. He reiterated Tuesday he plans to look for a new coaching job.
"The only fire I lit was under me," Rafael said, referring to the heat he's taken from higher-ups. "I think they still need me."
Wang didn't seem to appreciate Rafael's statements Monday her team's heart. She defended her love of curling, though didn't rule out retiring this year.
"Sorry, don't want to say something today," she said while walking through the mixed zone. "You can interview my coach."
The Americans guaranteed themselves at least a share of last place. They hung tough in their next-to-last Olympic match, but couldn't make enough big shots when it mattered. They were set to finish against Switzerland on Tuesday night.
Skip Debbie McCormick, a three-time Olympian, earlier pulled herself from the No. 4 shooting position because of her inconsistent shot-making.
"We're in last place, so awful," McCormick said. "We were trying so hard and supporting each other. We even changed our lineup and it didn't work out this week."