U.S. team announced for Brazil-USA Challenge

Jan. 13, 2009, 9:31 p.m. (ET)
(STEVENS POINT, Wis.) - The Todd Birr rink will represent the USA in the challenge between USA and Brazil for the final North American berth at the 2009 Ford World Men's Curling Championship, Jan. 30-Feb. 1 in Bismarck, N.D.

Brazil issued the first-ever challenge from a South American nation this summer against the United States for the berth and will get the opportunity to earn it in a best-of-five competition spread over three days in the city that most recently hosted the 2002 World Curling Championships.

Birr (Mankato, Minn.) and teammates Paul Pustovar (Hibbing, Minn.), Greg Wilson (Vernon Hills, Ill.) and Kevin Birr (St. Peter, Minn.) will play the Brazil team of Celso Kossaka, Marcelo Mello, Cesar Santos and Luis Augusto Silva in a best-of-five tournament at the Capital Curling Club. The Brazilian nationals are currently studying at the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec, Canada, and train at the Lennoxville Curling Club. The Birr brothers won bronze at the 2007 World Men's Championship in Edmonton. Pustovar, who will make his record 22nd appearance at the National Championships this season, also has played in six world championships, winning bronze in 1977. Pustovar and Wilson teamed up at the 1998 World Championships, finishing sixth.

Birr's team qualified for the 2010 Olympic Team Trials at the East regional on Sunday, making them the top eligible team on the Order of Merit used to select the challenge team. The challenge round for the remaining four men's berths to the Olympic Team Trials will take place during this time as well in Bismarck. 

Twelve teams compete at both the men's and women's World Curling Championships each year. Two teams represent the Americas Zone, encompassing both North and South America. Since the inception of the world championships, the only two World Curling Federation member associations to represent the Americas have been Canada and the United States. Canada, winner of both the 2007 and 2008 world men's titles, has qualified for the 2009 Ford Worlds in Moncton, Canada in April. Brazil, a WCF member since 1998, is challenging the U.S. for the second Americas berth in Moncton. 

This is the first challenge involving the U.S. since an Italian junior team challenged for the final place at the 1998 World Juniors. For that event, the USCA selected a host venue specifically located within an Italian-American community, and arranged hosted accommodation for the athletes. The U.S. won the challenge.

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