(BROOMFIELD, Colo.) - There isn't much intimidation in a sport like curling so playing against Olympians for some players can be the same as a Sunday night league competition against friends. However, there's a lot more on the line this week at the 2010 U.S. Olympic Team Trials at the Broomfield Event Center.
Norma O'Leary's team from Minnesota took down the 2006 Olympians Cassie Potter and Jamie Haskell, 8-4, and the rest of their team Sunday morning in the second women's draw of the weeklong round robin. It was the first win for O'Leary (Silver Bay, Minn.) and teammates Margie Smith (Shoreview, Minn.), Becky Johansen (Two Harbors, Minn.) and Theresa Hoffoss (Minneapolis), and it didn't matter that they beat players who wore USA on their backs in Torino three years ago.
"We feel really good about how we're playing," Smith said. "We all know each other really well and can communicate. You just have to be patient when you play these kinds of games."
Aileen Sormunen's team from Minnesota also got in the win column with an 11-8 victor over the Charrissa Lin rink from the East Coast. Sormunen (Duluth, Minn.) and teammates Molly Bonner (Virginia, Minn.), Jessica Schultz (Minneapolis) and Maureen Brunt (Minneapolis) scored a lot of points but also gave Lin opportunities to score big ends as well.
"We had a couple of missed shots that let them stay in the game," said Brunt, who was a member of the 2006 Olympic team. "We're having a hard time setting up the ends with the guards. There's so much swing to the ice, and we're not used to playing this many games on this kind of ice. It's definitely ideal ice, but we just need to find our draw weight."
Trailing 9-4 after seven ends, Lin (New Haven, Conn.) got her team right back in the game with a hit for four points. However, Sormunen was able to hold off Lin's team and pick up the win.
Amy Wright's Minnesota team improved to 2-0 with a last-rock win over Patti Lank's team, 10-9. Lank needed to covert a double takeout and keep her stone in the eight foot to out-count Wright's stone but rolled too far, allowing the steal of one for Wright's team. Lank's team took a 9-5 advantage after six ends when Wright used her final stone to attempt a triple takeout but it jammed and only removed one giving Lank a draw for four. But, Wright (Duluth, Minn.) and teammates Courtney George (Duluth, Minn.), Jordan Moulton (Minneapolis) and Patti Luke (Duluth, Minn.) got focused again and rattled off points in the final four ends to earn the win.
The defending champions, led by Debbie McCormick (Rio, Wis.), also improved to 2-0 with a convincing 10-3 win over Cristin Clark and her Seattle-area teammates. McCormick controlled the game from the first end when Clark was forced to one point. McCormick and teammates Allison Pottinger (Eden Prairie, Minn.), Nicole Joraanstad (Madison, Wis.) and Natalie Nicholson (Bemidji, Minn.) scored a single in the second when McCormick was forced to draw the nose of Frankie, the yellow lab's face adorning the button, a result of an eBay contest last month. They'd steal two points in the next end and continue to build their lead in the latter half of the match. McCormick converted a takeout for four points in the sixth end when Clark drew down to the button but left her stone exposed. Three more points in the eighth end by the McCormick rink sealed the win.
Erika Brown's team kept pace with the other leaders at 2-0 with a 6-3 win over the Gillian Gervais team. Brown (Oakville, Ontario) and teammates Nina Spatola (McFarland, Wis.), Nina Reiniger (New York City) and Laura Hallisey (Medfield, Mass.) took advantage of steal opportunities in multiple ends to quietly mark another win.
Live scoring from the event will be available at www.usacurl.org/curlingrocks in the scoreboard.
Scores: Brown 6, Gervais 3; O'Leary 8, Potter 4; Sormunen 11, Lin 8; Wright 10, Lank 9; McCormick 10, Clark 3
USA Curling is sponsored by Kodiak Technology Group, AIT Worldwide Logistics and Nike.
For more information: Terry Kolesar, USA Curling, 715-344-1199, Ext. 202, firstname.lastname@example.org