CURLING: Youngest team in field opens with big win at 2008 USA Curling National Championships

Feb. 18, 2008, 1 a.m. (ET)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 18, 2008 Youngest team in field posts big win at 2008 USA Curling National Championships (HIBBING, Minn.) - Aileen Sormunen's team opened the 2008 USA Curling National Championships with an upset win over the 2006 Olympic women's team led by Cassie Potter Monday morning at the Hibbing Curling Club. The Sormunen and Potter teams have been battling one another since their days competing in the Minnesota junior playdowns. This time, it was the younger Sormunen team that got the better of their in-state rivals, 8-4. Sormunen (Duluth, Minn.) and teammates Courtney George (Duluth, Minn.), Molly Bonner (Virginia, Minn.) and Jordan Moulton (Highland Park, Ill.) controlled most of the match against the 2005 national champions. "We felt really good and got a read on the ice quickly to grab the momentum," said George, who was the alternate with the Potter team at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games. Sormunen opened the game with a deuce after Potter rolled out of the rings on her takeout, giving Sormunen an open draw for two. The 2007 junior national champions then turned on the pressure by sticking stones in the house in the second end eventually forcing Potter to make a hit for just one point. The fourth end really was key for the Sormunen team as they were able to convert a takeout for three points to take a commanding lead that Potter's rink wouldn't overcome. After cutting the lead to 5-2, Potter (Bemidji, Minn.) and teammates Jamie Haskell (Bemidji, Minn.), Jackie Lemke (Medford, Wis.) and Maureen Brunt (Minneapolis) would steal a single in the sixth end when Sormunen's last stone sailed through the rings. But another deuce in the seventh end for Sormunen would dampen any hopes for Potter's team to make a comeback as the final three ends were kept relatively clean. "It's always nice to come out and get that first win," George said. "We're not here to just make the playoffs; we'd like to win it all." The defending ladies champions, led by Debbie McCormick (Rio, Wis.), also started on the winning track with a lopsided 11-4 win over Charrissa Lin's East Coast team. McCormick and teammates Allison Pottinger (Eden Prairie, Minn.), Nicole Joraanstad (Madison, Wis.) and Natalie Nicholson (Bemidji, Minn.) applied pressure in every end, forcing Lin to make tough shots from the first end out. After scoring a deuce in the opening end, McCormick's team stole a single when Lin couldn't convert a tough angle raise double take-out. Lin (New Haven, Conn.) and teammates Janice Langanke (Middletown, N.J.), Nicole Arsenault (Brick, N.J.) and Rachel Sethi (Falls Church, Va.) scored one in the third end but would give up four more points over the next two ends. McCormick made an open takeout in the seventh end for another deuce and sealed the win with three in the ninth. Patti Lank's team upended North Dakota's Gillian Gervais rink, 9-5, to start the week out strong. Lank (Lewiston, N.Y.) and teammates Caitlin Maroldo (Rochester, N.Y.), Ann Swisshelm (Chicago) and Chrissy Haase (Schenectady, N.Y.) took advantage of the younger team as they made the most of the last-rock advantage. Holding a commanding 5-2 lead after four ends, Lank would steal a point in the fifth when Gervais, the 2005 junior national champion, didn't get the roll she needed with her takeout. Gervais had a chance to grab three points in the eighth end to cut the lead to two but couldn't convert. Another single by the veteran Lank team in the ninth end sewed up the win. The action continues today with men's draws at noon and 8 p.m. and the women returning to the ice at 4 p.m. The round robin continues through Thursday afternoon with the Page System playoffs beginning at 9 a.m. Friday. The winning teams at the 2008 Nationals will represent the U.S. at the 2008 World Championships. The women's event is scheduled March 22-30 in Vernon, British Columbia. The 2008 Men's World Championship is slated April 4-13 at the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, N.D. Live scoring from the 2008 Nationals can be found on the USA Curling website at Game scores: Sormunen 8, Potter 4; McCormick 11, Lin 4; Lank 9, Gervais 5 Women's standings: Lank (New York) 1-0 McCormick (Wisconsin) 1-0 Sormunen (Minnesota) 1-0 Stuhlman (New York) 0-0 Lin (Connecticut) 0-1 Gervais (North Dakota) 0-1 Potter (Minnesota) 0-1 Men's standings: Brown (Wisconsin) 3-0 Disher (North Dakota) 3-0 Larway (Washington) 3-0 Fenson (Minnesota) 2-1 Romaniuk (Washington) 2-1 George (Minnesota) 1-2 Birr (Minnesota) 1-2 Roe (Wisconsin) 0-3 Shuster (Minnesota) 0-3 Wilberg (Wisconsin) 0-3 USA Curling is sponsored by AIT Worldwide Logistics, AmerAust Technologies and Nike as well as by AT,T 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).