Women's final four decided at Olympic TrialsBROOMFIELD, Colo. (Feb. 25, 2009) – While there is still one draw remaining in the women’s round robin at the 2010 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for curling, the four playoff-bound teams were decided today at the Broomfield Event Center.
Those four are teams skipped by Erika Brown (Oakville, Ontario/Madison, Wis.), Patti Lank (Lewiston, N.Y), Debbie McCormick (Rio, Wis.), and Amy Wright (Duluth, Minn.). The only 2006 Olympian still in the running is Courtney George (Duluth, Minn.), who slides on the Wright team and was the alternate for Cassie Johnson’s crew in Torino in 2006.
Cassie (Johnson) Potter saw her hopes of returning to the Olympics in 2010 dashed with an 8-5 loss to the Aileen Sormunen rink this afternoon.
The playoff teams still have a lot at stake in the final round robin draw tonight, at 8 o’clock. The playoff format used by USA Curling has the top two teams emerging from the round robin contesting each other. The winner advances to the final, set for 10 a.m. Saturday (all times local, MST), while the loser will have one more shot to get there. The #3 and #4 seeds entering the playoffs face each other, with the winner playing the loser of the #1 vs. #2 game. The victor of that game, at 4 p.m. Friday, becomes the other finalist.
In the final round robin draw, Brown (6-2) plays Sormunen (4-4); Lank (6-2) faces Cristin Clark (2-6); McCormick (7-1) meets Potter (4-4), and Wright (6-2) takes on Gillian Gervais (2-6).
Going into this afternoon’s draw, Potter’s rink was the only one left in the 10-team field that still had a chance to catch one of the four frontrunners. The game was underscored by the drama of having Potter and sister Jamie Haskell playing against former Olympic teammates Jessica Schultz and Maureen Brunt (both from Minneapolis), although Brunt was watching from the sidelines due to illness.
These teams were tied 3-3 after five ends, and 5-5 after nine. Potter had to draw the back of the button in the ninth end just to get one, but that gave Sormunen the last-rock advantage for the final frame. Potter’s team had several opportunities to set up a steal in the 10th, but failed three times to draw around center guards to get in the four-foot.
Potter finally drew her first rock to the top of the four-foot, but Sormunen was able to pick it out cleanly. Her shot stayed put, though, giving Potter an opportunity to hit and roll for first count. She made the hit but didn’t get much roll, and it was somewhat uncertain which team had the scoring point. That became a moot point when Sormunen and her teammates team coolly tapped Potter’s stone between two of their own counters to remove the threat and pick up three points for the final 8-5 score.
On the other side of the ice, McCormick’s team suffered its first loss of the week at the hands of the Erika Brown rink. Brown’s squad jumped out to a 4-1 lead in four ends, and led 7-2 after six. But McCormick and company made a game of it, pulling to within 8-6 in the ninth end. In the 10th, McCormick’s team had the two points needed to tie in place when Brown stepped into the hack to deliver the hammer. She easily made an open hit to clinch the game and make the final score 9-6.
“My teammates have kind of hit their stride,” said Brown. “We were struggling early in the week, but the girls have played really well since yesterday morning, and I’m really proud of them.”
Wright’s team seemingly had its game against the Clark foursome in hand with a 7-1 lead after six ends. But Clark guided her side to a comeback to tie the score at 7-7 entering the 10th end. Wright won without having to throw her last rock, though, when Clark’s final shot, a multiple takeout, failed to leave her team with first count.
“We kind of forgot to finish,” said Wright. “That was probably the best first half we’ve played all week, but then we kind of took our heads out of it. Sometimes it’s really hard to defend the lead.”
“We’ve had a lot “cat-with-nine-lives games, a lot of last-rock wins,” said Wright. “That’s improving our confidence, though. We’re getting stronger as the week goes one.”
Lank’s team had the easiest afternoon of all, dispatching the Norma O’Leary team in five ends, 9-1. Meanwhile, the Gillian Gervais rink from Bismarck, N.D., piled on the offense to take down the Charrissa Lin team (New Haven, Conn.), 15-6, in nine ends.
The women’s playoffs start at 8 p.m. Thursday. Tickets are still available.
Live scoring from the event will be available at www.usacurl.org/curlingrocks in the scoreboard.
Scores: Brown 9, McCormick 6; Lank 9, O’Leary 1; Wright 8, Clark 7; Gervais 15, Lin 6; Sormunen 8, Potter 5.
USA Curling is sponsored by Kodiak Technology Group, AIT Worldwide Logistics and Nike.