USA teams head to New Zealand for 2009 World Seniors

April 24, 2009, 6:42 p.m. (ET)

(STEVENS POINT, Wis.) - Led by former U.S. champions, the men's and women's teams look to step on the podium as the 2009 World Senior Championships get underway Monday at the Dunedin Ice Stadium in Dunedin, New Zealand.

Led by six-time U.S. men's national champion Paul Pustovar (Hibbing, Minn.), the USA men are hoping to become just the second American team to win gold at this event. Pustovar's teammates, Brian Simonson (Hibbing, Minn.), Tom Harms (Pengilly, Minn.) and Don Mohawk (Nashwauk, Minn.) won the U.S. senior title in 2006 and silver at the 2006 World Seniors. Dale Gibbs (Woodbury, Minn.) is the team's alternate.

The men's field features 12 teams split into two pools for round robin play. The U.S. men will compete against Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, New Zealand and Italy in the red group. The blue group includes Canada, Scotland, England, Japan, Australia and Hungary. The men begin play at 3 p.m. (local time; 16 hours ahead of EST) Monday against Sweden's Karl Nordlund.

The women's team is led by a team that together won two U.S. women's national titles in the 1980s. Sharon Vukich (Seattle), Joan Fish (Hansville, Wash.) and Aija Edwards (Hansville, Wash.) teamed up to win titles in 1987 and 1980 (they won bronze at the 1980 World Championships). Joining them in the second position is Cathie Tomlinson (Seattle). The women will compete against seven other nations in round robin action - Canada, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Scotland, Sweden and Switzerland. They kick off action at 11 a.m. Monday against the hometown team led by Wendy Becker.

At last year's World Senior Championships in Vierumaki, Finland, Canada won both team titles. The U.S. men won bronze while the women finished fifth. Overall, Canada has won a leading four women's gold medals and five men's gold medals since the event began in 2002. The U.S. men have won gold once (2002), silver in 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003 and bronze in 2008. The U.S. women have won bronze three times - in 2007, 2004 and 2002.

Dunedin is New Zealand's oldest city and is situated in the Otago Peninsula on the Southeastern coast of New Zealand's south island, an area rich in Scottish heritage. New Zealand now boasts 36 curling clubs and most recently hosted the 2008 Pacific Curling Championships. This is the first world championship to be played in New Zealand.

Live scoring from the event can be found online at http://2009nzwscc.co.nz/.

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