Birr leads the pack at 2010 U.S. Olympic Team Trials

Feb. 23, 2009, 12:03 p.m. (ET)
(BROOMFIELD, Colo.) - 2007 World Bronze medalist Todd Birr leads the pack with a perfect 3-0 record after picking up another win Sunday night at the 2010 U.S. Olympic Team Trials at the Broomfield Event Center.

Birr (Mankato, Minn.) and teammates Paul Pustovar (Hibbing, Minn.), Greg Wilson (Vernon Hills, Ill.) and Kevin Birr (St. Peter, Minn.) used a systematic approach to knock off 2006 Olympic bronze medalist John Shuster (Duluth, Minn.), 5-3.

"We're just taking hold of the games late and winning that way," Birr said. "We're probably leading in the least points scored. We're playing defensively and keeping the games close. Paul likes to open it up a little bit more with the hammer but we're focusing on not giving up steals."

Birr actually didn't take the lead until the seventh end when he scored a deuce. He'd steal a single in the following end when Shuster missed his double takeout attempt. Another steal in the ninth end gave Birr the 5-3 advantage and eventual win.

"Everyone knows it's down to one game at the end of the week," Birr said. "We figure we'll need seven wins to get there."

Tyler George led his Minnesota team to an 8-6 win over the Mark Johnson rink to improve to 2-1. Leading 5-2 after five ends, George (Duluth, Minn.) and teammates Kris Perkovich (Chisholm, Minn.), Kevin Johnson (Duluth, Minn.) and Mark Haluptzok (Bemidji, Minn.) escaped the sixth end when George converted a triple takeout and then stole two points in the seventh. Johnson (Edmonton, Alberta) made a game of it, though, with a deuce in the eighth and a steal in the ninth to climb within one point. George kept the house relatively empty in the 10th to earn the win.

Mike Farbelow's Minnesota team jumped out to a quick lead over the youngest team in the field, led by 21-year-old Chris Plys (Duluth, Minn.), grabbing three points with a hit-and-stick with the opening hammer. A quick steal of one and the Plys rink was behind 0-4. The youngsters would only score singles in the third and sixth ends as they fall to 1-2 in the standings.

Craig Disher's team dismantled Kevin Deeren (Chicago) 7-5 in a game with multiple steals. Disher (Rolla, N.D.) and teammates Kevin Kakela (Rolla, N.D.), Zach Jacobson (Langdon, N.D.) and Kurt Disher (Rolla, N.D.) started strong, taking a 6-2 lead after six ends but allowed Deeren to score in the next three ends to pull within a point. The veteran North Dakota team would score a single in the 10th end to seal the game.

In the competition's first extra end game, Craig Brown (Madison, Wis.) placed a third stone in the rings with his final shot forcing Greg Romaniuk (Snohomish, Wash.) to make a hit on the Brown stone on the button for the win. However, Romaniuk attempted the double and jammed his stone to give up the steal and hand the defending champions their first win of the round robin.

The action continues tomorrow with draws at 8 a.m., 12 p.m., 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Live scoring from the event will be available at www.usacurl.org/curlingrocks in the scoreboard.

Photos can be found at: http://www.curlingrocks.net/photo-gallery.php.

Universal Sports will air 12 hours live from the 2010 Olympic Team Trials, including the semifinals and championship finals. Live webstreaming also will be on www.universalsports.com.

Scores: Birr 5, Shuster 3; Disher 7, Deeren 5; Brown 8, Romaniuk 7; George 8, Johnson 6; Farbelow 8, Plys 2

STANDINGS:
Men:
Birr 3-0
Disher 2-1
Farbelow 2-1
George 2-1
Brown 1-2
Deeren 1-2
Johnson 1-2
Plys 1-2
Romaniuk 1-2
Shuster 1-2

Women:
Brown 3-0
McCormick 3-0
Lank 2-1
O'Leary 2-1
Potter 2-1
Wright 2-1
Sormunen 1-2
Clark 0-3
Gervais 0-3
Lin 0-3

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

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For more information: Terry Kolesar, USA Curling, 715-344-1199, Ext. 202, terry.kolesar@usacurl.org
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