(OMAHA, Nebraska) – Three of four playoff spots were determined after this afternoon’s session at the 2018 US Olympic Team Trials for Curling.
Teams skipped by three-time Olympian John Shuster (Superior, Wis.), Nina Roth (McFarland, Wis.) and Jamie Sinclair (St. Paul, Minn.) are all one step closer to the 2018 Olympic Games.
Shuster and teammates Tyler George (Duluth, Minn.), Matt Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.), John Landsteiner (Duluth, Minn.), and Joe Polo (Duluth, Minn.) defeated Todd Birr’s team, 7-2, today to improve to 6-1 and reach the playoffs at Baxter Arena.
“It gives us options in the last draw if someone needs rest and it also guarantees that we have the hammer in games one and three,” Shuster said about qualifying early to the playoffs and earning the hammer advantage for two of the three playoff games. “We’re rolling so well right now I still think we have to have some talks about how we’re going to play this last game of the round robin.”
The Birr rink drops to 4-3 but has a matchup tonight in the round robin finale against Heath McCormick’s team (5-2). Birr (Blaine, Minn.) and teammates John Benton (Blaine, Minn.), Hunter Clawson (Clarksville, Md.), and Tom O’Connor (Brooklyn Center, Minn.) will need to defeat McCormick to force a tiebreaker game. A win by McCormick tonight would redeem their playoff ticket.
Roth’s team defeated Cory Christensen, 8-6, this afternoon which automatically put them in the playoffs along with Jamie Sinclair’s rink as Christensen slipped to 1-4 in the triple round robin standings.
Roth and her team of Tabitha Peterson (Eagan, Minn.), Aileen Geving (Duluth, Minn.), and Becca Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.) built a solid lead over the young Christensen rink and maintained control of the match.
“It feels good,” Roth said about securing the playoff position. “That was our first goal, now we can just sharpen up a little bit, get a little rest before tomorrow.”
Christensen (Duluth, Minn.) and teammates Sarah Anderson (Minneapolis, Minn.), Taylor Anderson (Minneapolis, Minn.), and Jenna Martin (Wauwatosa, Wis.) scored three points in the ninth end to trail by only a point but were not able to set up a steal as Roth sealed the win with an open takeout to score.
“You know coming into the week this was our goal, to qualify and obviously go from there,” Hamilton said. “So, to know that our hard work paid off this season and now it’s just going to come down to two more wins and, hopefully, we can make it happen.”
Roth and Sinclair will play a best-of-three playoff series that will begin at 1:30 p.m. CT Thursday. The first men’s playoff game between Shuster (6-1) and either McCormick or Birr will take place at 6 p.m. tomorrow night. If needed, the tiebreaker game would take place at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.
“I don’t think you’ve seen our A-game yet. I think that we’re slowly learning the ice and with every game we’re making more shots and working together as a team better,” Hamilton said.
Craig Brown’s team added a second victory for the week as they got past Brady Clark’s team, 7-6. Both teams were eliminated from playoff contention yesterday.
The round robin will conclude on Wednesday after draws at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. If needed, tiebreaker games would take place on Thursday morning. A link to the live webstream of the round robin can be found at www.NBCSports.com. The playoffs will be live and on tape delay starting Thursday on NBCSN. Game scores will be posted online after each draw at www.usacurl.org. Standings and stats also will be available.
Draw 10 scores: Shuster 7, Birr 2; Roth 8, Christensen 6; Brown 7, Clark 6
Men’s Standings (double round robin):
John Shuster 6-1*
Heath McCormick 5-2
Todd Birr 4-3
Craig Brown 2-5
Brady Clark 1-7
Women’s Standings (triple round robin):
Nina Roth 4-2*
Jamie Sinclair 3-2*
Cory Christensen 1-4
*clinched playoff spots
John Shuster (Superior, Wis.), Tyler George (Duluth, Minn.), Matt Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.), John Landsteiner (Duluth, Minn.), and Joe Polo (Duluth, Minn.)
Jamie Sinclair (St. Paul, Minn.), Alex Carlson (St. Paul, Minn.), Vicky Persinger (Fairbanks, Alaska), and Monica Walker (St. Paul, Minn.)
Nina Roth (McFarland, Wis.), Tabitha Peterson (Eagan, Minn.), Aileen Geving (Duluth, Minn.), and Becca Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.)
USA Curling is hosting the event with Baxter Arena and the Omaha Sports Commission, in partnership with the Aksarben Curling Club and the United States Olympic Committee. The men’s and women’s teams that win the Trials will be named to the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team, pending approval by the United States Olympic Committee.