As the qualification round of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi winds down, one thing is clear for those proudly donning the red, white and blue of the United States.
America, you stink at curling.
How bad has it been? This bad:
US men's and women's curling teams both eliminated from medal contention in Sochi. Playing out the string tomorrow.— Rachel Blount (@BlountStrib) February 16, 2014
It didn’t have to be this way.
Both the men and women of Team USA had high hopes coming into Sochi.
And why shouldn’t they? Curling has grown absurdly popular over the last few Olympic Games, and America loves its sports as much as anyone.
The people were ready to watch and cheer, even if it meant getting up at odd hours in the night to do it:
I'm thinking about live tweeting the men's US vs. Canada curling tonight at 3AM. Who's with me?— Jon Acuff (@JonAcuff) February 16, 2014
But there’s been little to cheer for in Sochi, and even less reason to sleepwalk through the work day to see it as it happens.
In fact, the only reason one might consider watching these guys and gals is to see those crazy pants the Norwegian men wear while they’re kicking butt and taking names.
Look, the U.S. men had a tough time qualifying for Sochi, but they did so in fine fashion. There was legitimate reason to believe they could do better than terrible.
Led by veteran John Shuster, the U.S. men’s curling team won five straight games after opening last December’s eight-team Olympic Qualification Event with a 2-2 record. Only two teams would qualify for the Olympics from that event, so the Americans needed to play their best to have a chance at it.
And they did.
But now it seems like they did their best work back in 2013. Because since the action has started in Sochi, they’ve posted a dismal 2-6 record and were eliminated from the playoff portion of the competition on Sunday with tough losses to Canada and Sweden.
The ladies have been even worse.
While the fairer sex (or at least the more vociferous one) was supposed to be the most competitive team sent to Sochi by the U.S., the women have been locked into last place since the start of things.
The women’s team was ranked fifth in the qualifying standings at the end of 2012, an impressive feat for a country that had earned but one medal total in the sport, a 2006 bronze captured by the men.
But the women have been crushed in Sochi by the top teams in the world. They’ve posted a 1-7 record and were knocked out of the playoffs almost as fast as something like that can happen.
The icing on the cake? What was supposed to be America’s best curling team, the women, is the one that made Olympic history in how bad they’ve been. That’s right.
They were absolutely brutalized by an Olympic-record seven-point end in a 12-3 loss to Great Britain last Wednesday, something that shows just how far behind the field they are in international competition. Even worse, the U.S. women finally put up a reasonably good showing against Canada, but only after they had been eliminated from contention.
Oh, and they still lost, 7-6.
“It’s not like we’ll leave here thinking that we don’t belong here,” Erika Brown, a veteran of Team U.S.A. said, via the Minneapolis Star Tribune's Chip Scoggins. “Unfortunately, we didn’t perform like we know we can.”
But fret not, America, because the honorary captain of Team USA curling, NFL player Vernon Davis of the San Francisco 49ers, has been rallying the troops via social media.
Of his tiny handful of curling posts, Team USA’s fearless (and quiet) leader might have already prepared an excellent exit strategy for this year’s teams via Instagram:
That’s right. It’s time to turn around and walk away.
Maybe 2018 will be different.