Finals set at 2009 US Club National Championships

March 16, 2009, 10:48 a.m. (ET)
STEVENS POINT, Wis. (March 13, 2009) - The final four teams are set to play for gold at the 2009 U.S. Club National Championships at the Utica Curling Club in Whitesboro, N.Y.

The defending women's champions from Minnesota I, led by Norma O'Leary (Silver Bay, Minn.), easily advanced to the finals handing Washington's Gabrielle Coleman an 11-2 loss. O'Leary and teammates Pam Cavers (Duluth, Minn.), Mary Johnson (Duluth) and Patti Luke (Duluth) scored four points with the last rock in the third end and then capitalized on a steal of four in the next end to grab an early 8-1 lead. Coleman (Mountain View, Calif.) and teammates Elizabeth Coffin (Mountlake Terrace, Wash.), Cynthia Eng-Dinsel (Bothell, Wash.) and Sara Skulec (Bothell, Wash.) couldn't overcome the early deficit and will play for bronze.

Minnesota I will take on the Cape Cod Curling Club team of Matina Heisler (Falmouth, Mass.), Elizabeth Abeltin (Falmouth), Marinna Martini (Falmouth) and Wendy Scholes (North Falmouth, Mass.). Massachusetts defeated Wisconsin's Shelly Kosal rink, 4-2, to advance in the team's first appearance at this event. The Massachusetts ladies scored the game's first points - a steal of two in the third end - and added two singles to defeat Wisconsin's Kosal (Edgerton, Wis.), Stephanie Erstad (Morrisonville, Wis.), Mary Parker (De Forest, Wis.) and Jacqueline Walisser (Madison, Wis.). Wisconsin and Washington will face off in the bronze-medal game.

The men's gold medal game will feature the two teams that have been on top of the leaderboard all week - Illinois's Jeff Wright rink and Wisconsin's Mike Fraboni team. Wright and teammates Nils Johansson (Highland Park, Ill.), Russ Brown (Lake Forest, Ill.) and Ken Brown (Deerfield, Ill.) got past Rick Tangedal's North Dakota II rink, 11-8. Tangedal's team took an early lead after stealing two points in the third end but Wright's team scored three points in the fourth and never relinquished the lead.

Wisconsin's Mike Fraboni (McFarland, Wis.), Brian Kopp (Sun Prairie, Wis.), Joel Dietz (Madison, Wis.) and Donnie Henry (Cottage Grove, Wis.) handed Minnesota's Mark Willmert rink a 7-5 loss in the other semifinal to advance to the gold-medal game. Wisconsin didn't take the lead until half-way through the match when they scored a deuce and followed up with a steal to take a 4-2 lead after six ends. A key three-ender late in the game helped Wisconsin clinch the win.

The men's gold and bronze games are set for 10 a.m. ET Saturday while the women's medal games will be at 2 p.m.

The U.S. Olympic Committee is sponsoring the production of live Internet video streaming of the men's and women's championship games from the 2009 USA Curling Club National Championships. The finals are set for this Saturday, at 10 a.m. for the women and 2 p.m. for the men (all times Eastern). Fans can find the link to the coverage at

Producing the coverage will be Carr-Hughes Productions of Saratoga Springs, N.Y. The commentators will be Bill Morehouse (Utica, N.Y.), who is just back from a sideline reporting duty for the NBC Universal Sports coverage of the 2010 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Curling, and Patti Lank (Lewiston, N.Y.), a four-time U.S. national champion and the runner-up in the 2010 Olympic Team Trials.

This is the fifth year that the Club National Championships are being played. This event does not lead to a world championship but is used as a stepping stone to help develop athletes towards future national championships.

Line Scores

Washington* 100 010 0xx x 2
Minnesota I 004 401 2xx x 11

Wisconsin* 000 101 000 0 2
Massachusetts 002 010 001 0 4

North Dakota II* 012 010 301 0 8
Illinois 200 302 010 3 11

Wisconsin 001 021 030 x 7
Minnesota* 010 100 201 x 5

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