Team USA readies for 2009 Winter World University Games

Feb. 17, 2009, 12:01 p.m. (ET)
STEVENS POINT, Wis. (Feb. 16, 2009) - Team USA hits the ice at 9 a.m. Thursday for the kick off of the 2009 Winter World University Games in Harbin, China.

The USA women, led by Katherine Stewart (Minneapolis), take on Korea in opening round action of the 24th Winter Universiade held at the Heilongjiang Skating Gym. Joining Stewart are teammates Amanda McLean (Duluth, Minn.), Casey Cucchiarelli (Wausau, Wis.) and Sarah Mcleod (Esko, Minn.).

The men's team of Chris Pleasants (Seattle), Zachary Radmer (Seattle), Jon Chartrand (Seattle) and Bret Nordlund (Issaquah, Wash.) take the ice at 2 p.m. Thursday (local time, eight hours ahead of CT) against Great Britain.

The round robin features 10 men's and 10 women's teams. This is the third time that curling will be featured as a medal sport at the winter universiad. The USA men, led by 2006 Olympic bronze medalist John Shuster, won gold at the 2007 WWUG in Italy. Other sports featured include ice hockey, figure skating, speedskating, alpine skiing, Nordic combined, snowboarding, free-style skiing, cross country skiing, biathlon and ski jumping.

The U.S. women will compete in a round robin competition with other university students (ages 17-28) from Canada, Great Britain, Russia, China, Japan, Korea, Sweden, the Czech Republic and Poland. The men will compete against Canada, Great Britain, Sweden, Korea, Switzerland, China, Japan, Norway and Finland.

Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang province, is situated in the northeast of China. Harbin is called pearl of Eurasia due to its location in the center of Northeast Asia. The Province features a rigid temperate continental monsoon climate, known as Ice City for its long winter and short summer, according to the event website at

USA Curling is sponsored by AIT Worldwide Logistics, Kodiak Technology Grou and Nike.