CURLING: 2008 U.S. National Championships begin Saturday

Feb. 12, 2008, 1 a.m. (ET)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Feb. 12, 2008 2008 Nationals begin Saturday in Hibbing, Minn. (STEVENS POINT, Wis.) - The best curlers in the United States will be in Hibbing, Minn., for the start of the 2008 USA Curling National Championships on Saturday at the Hibbing Curling Club. A total of 10 men's and seven women's teams will compete at the week-long 2008 U.S. Nationals. The winning teams will represent the U.S. at the upcoming 2008 World Championships. The Women's World Championship will take place March 22-30 in Vernon, British Columbia, while the Men's World Championship is set for April 5-13 in Grand Forks, N.D., at the Ralph Engelstad Arena. The reigning national champions, skipped by Todd Birr (Mankato, Minn.) and Debbie McCormick (Rio, Wis.), look to make a return to the Worlds. Birr and teammates Bill Todhunter (Appleton, Wis.), Greg Johnson (Appleton, Wis.) and Kevin Birr (St. Peter, Minn.) won bronze at last year's worlds in Edmonton while McCormick's team of Allison Pottinger (Eden Prairie, Minn.), Nicole Joraanstad (Madison, Wis.) and Natalie Nicholson (Bemidji, Minn.) finished fourth in Japan. Also competing in the men's field are teams skipped by 2006 Olympic bronze medalist Pete Fenson (Bemidji, Minn.), 2004 national champion Jason Larway (Lynnwood, Wash.), 2000 national champion Craig Brown (Madison, Wis.), 2006 Olympic bronze medalist John Shuster (Chisholm, Minn.), 2001 national champion Greg Romaniuk (Snohomish, Wash.) and last year's runner-up Craig Disher (Rolla, N.D.). Jeremy Roe's Wisconsin team joins two rookie teams skipped by Tyler George (Duluth, Minn.) and Willie Wilberg (Green Bay, Wis.) to fill out the field. McCormick's Team USA will be challenged by four-time national champion Patti Lank (Lewiston, N.Y.), Cassie Potter's 2006 Olympic team, 2007 junior champion Aileen Sormunen (Duluth, Minn.), 2005 junior champion Gillian Gervais (Bismarck, N.D.) as well as multiple nationals participant Charrissa Lin (New Haven, Conn.) and two-time participant Anne Stuhlman (Utica, N.Y.). The first draw of the 2008 U.S. Nationals gets underway at 6 p.m. Saturday. Hibbing, a northern Minnesota community of about 17,000 residents, is the hometown of legendary musician Bob Dylan as well as Boston Celtic great Kevin McHale. The seven-sheet curling club is located in the Memorial Building at 400 East 23rd St. The club last hosted the National Championships in 1984 and is the home to many of the sport's legendary curlers including the 1976 world champion rink skipped by Bruce Roberts as well as the sport's first men's national champions from 1957 - Harold Lauber team. Live scoring, standings and news from the event will be available via the USA Curling website at Here is a look at the competing field for the 2008 U.S. National Championships: Team Birr (defending national champions): Todd Birr (Mankato, Minn.), Bill Todhunter (Appleton, Wis.), Greg Johnson (Appleton, Wis.), Kevin Birr (St. Peter, Minn.), Paul Pustovar (Hibbing, Minn.) Team Brown: Craig Brown (Madison, Wis.), Rich Ruohonen (Brooklyn Park, Minn.), John Dunlop (Milwaukee, Wis.), Pete Annis (Owatonna, Minn.), Coach Steve Brown (Madison, Wis.) Team Disher: Craig Disher (Rolla, N.D.), Kevin Kakela (Rolla, N.D.), Zach Jacobson (Langdon, N.D.), Carey Kakela (St. John, N.D.), Kurt Disher (Hansboro, N.D.), Coach Joel Jacobson (Langdon, N.D.) Team Fenson: Pete Fenson (Bemidji, Minn.), Shawn Rojeski (Chisholm, Minn.), Joe Polo (Bemidji, Minn.), Tom O'Connor (Golden Valley, Minn.), Coach Bob Fenson (Bemidji, Minn.) Team George: Tyler George (Duluth, Minn.), Kris Perkovich (Chisholm, Minn.), Phill Drobnick (Duluth, Minn.), Kevin Johnson (Winabego, Minn.), Coach Tom George (Duluth, Minn.) Team Larway: Jason Larway (Lynnwood, Wash.), Colin Hufman (Seattle), Greg Persinger (Anchorage, Alaska), Joel Larway (Lynnwood, Wash.), Steven Demlow (Bothell, Wash.) Team Roe: Jeremy Roe (Rio, Wis.), Pat Roe (Madison, Wis.), Richard Maskel (Green Bay, Wis.), Mark Hartman (Sun Prairie, Wis.), Matt Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.) Team Romaniuk: Greg Romaniuk (Snohomish, Wash.), Doug Pottinger (Eden Prairie, Minn.), Leon Romaniuk (Kirkland, Wash.), Mike Calcagno (Kirkland, Wash.), Cory Yalowicki (Bothell, Wash.) Team Shuster: John Shuster (Duluth, Minn.), Jeff Isaacson (Gilbert, Minn.), Chris Plys (Duluth, Minn.), Shane McKinlay (Fridley, Minn.), Jason Smith (Cape Coral, Fla.), Coach Tim Wright (Duluth, Minn.) Team Wilberg: William Wilberg (Green Bay, Wis.), Charles Taggart (Green Bay, Wis.), Alex Leichter (Wayland, Mass.), Andrew Quigley (Green Bay, Wis.), Andy Campbell (Appleton, Wis.), Coach Bill Wilberg (Green Bay, Wis.) Women's field: Team Gervais: Gillian Gervais (Winnipeg, Manitoba), Stephanie Roland (East Grand Forks, Minn.), Stephanie Jensen (Bismarck, N.D.), Sarah Felchle (Bismarck, N.D.), Coach Dave Jensen (Bismarck, N.D.) Team Lank: Patti Lank (Lewiston, N.Y.), Caitlin Maroldo (Rochester, N.Y.), Chrissy Haase (Schenectady, N.Y.), Ann Swisshelm Silver (Chicago), Erika Brown (Oakville, Ontario), Coach Steve Brown (Madison, Wis.) Team Lin: Charrissa Lin (New Haven, Conn.), Janice Langanke (Middletown, N.J.), Nicole Arseneault (Brick, N.J.), Rachel Sethi (Falls Church, Va.), Coach Sandra McMakin (Potomac, Md.) Team McCormick: Debbie McCormick (Rio, Wis.), Allison Pottinger (Eden Prairie, Minn.), Nicole Joraanstad (Madison, Wis.), Natalie Nicholson (Bemidji, Minn.), Coach Wally Henry (Beaver Dam, Wis.) Team Potter: Cassie (Johnson) Potter (Minneapolis), Jamie Haskell (Bemidji, Minn.), Jessica Schultz (Duluth, Minn.), Maureen Brunt (Minneapolis.), Jackie Lemke (Medford, Wis.), Coach Jim Dexter (St. Paul) Team Sormunen: Aileen Sormunen (Duluth, Minn.), Courtney George (Duluth, Minn.), Molly Bonner (Virginia, Minn.), Jordan Moulton (Highland Park, Ill.), Coach Bob Fenson (Bemidji, Minn.) Team Stuhlman: Anne Stuhlman (New Hartford, N.Y.), Diane Higgins (Richfield Springs, N.Y.), Lisa Mitchell (Lancaster, Mass.), Karen Rogowski (New York Mills, N.Y.) USA Curling is sponsored by AIT Worldwide Logistics, AmerAust Technologies and Nike as well as by AT,T, General Motors, The Home Depot, and Bank of America through a joint marketing program with the U.S. Olympic Committee. (30) For more information: Terry Kolesar, USA Curling,, 715-344-1199, Ext. 202, or 608-338-9900 (cell).