(FARGO, N.D.) - The first round of women's competition at the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Curling featured a rare 12th end played to determine the outcome of the match between Olympians Allison Pottinger and Cassie Potter Monday night at Scheels Arena.
2010 Olympian Pottinger (Eden Prairie, Minn.) had a shot for the win in the first extra end but her stone rolled out after she completed the takeout of Potter's rock. In the 12th end, Pottinger drew through a port with her first stone to remove the Potter rock behind the guard in the four-foot. When Potter tried to duplicate that shot, her final stone wrecked on the guard and Pottinger and her team of Nicole Joraanstad (Verona, Wis.), Natalie Nicholson (Bemidji, Minn.), Tabitha Peterson (Eagan, Minn.) earned the opening round win.
"It's always nice to get that first win in a long event like this," Joraanstad said. "Obviously maybe not do it in 12 ends, but we'll do it anyway. Win close or win big, it doesn't matter as long as you win. I think our game strategy and execution was solid. And I think we can build on it with each and every game as we go through the event."
Pottinger's team had a comfortable 5-2 lead early until a miss in the seventh end when Pottinger flashed a takeout left Potter with an open draw for four points to take a 6-5 lead. The Pottinger rink quickly answered with three points to regain the lead. Potter made a perfect tapback in the final end of regulation to score two and force the extra end.
"We had been playing solid and making a lot of shots so the four kind of snuck up on us and, you know, things like that happen it's curling," said Joraanstad, who was a member of Team USA at the 2010 Olympic Games. "We just wanted to go out and play a strong end and we were talking about getting our pair back and if we had an opportunity to get three and just play tough, luckily we were playing good and were able to bounce back."
In the other women's game tonight, Erika Brown's team piled on the offense to defeat Courtney George, 10-3.
"We've been here for a few days waiting and waiting to get on the ice so it was just a relief, quite frankly, to get on the ice and start playing and to get off to a great start like that is really ideal. Everyone played really well and it's a good way to start," Brown said.
In the fourth round of men's competition, Pete Fenson's team got back in the win column by earning an extra-end victory over Heath McCormick, 6-5.
"All we want to do is be able to have an open four-foot for the last shot to draw," said Shawn Rojeski, vice skip for Team Fenson. "Whatever we have to do to make the four-foot open for Pete on his last shot, that's all we're looking for there. Nicely enough on that one we made a great shot on Pete's first one."
The win improved Team Fenson to 2-1 in the standings, good enough for second place for the moment.
"It's a long, grueling week. We doubted anybody would go through undefeated so we not only thought we're going to have to play good but we're going to have to get a little bit lucky somewhere along the way," Rojeski said. "Whether it's a couple of shots, whether it's an extra end win, whatever it is you're going to have to get a little bit of luck to make it through the week."
Two-time Olympian John Shuster (Duluth, Minn.) continued his winning ways with an 8-5 victory over fellow Duluth Curling Club member Tyler George, 8-5. The win improved Shuster and teammates Jeff Isaacson (Gilbert, Minn.), Jared Zezel (Duluth, Minn.), and John Landsteiner (Duluth, Minn.) to 3-0 in the first round robin. The loss dropped the George rink to 2-2.
The 2014 Olympic Trials action continues tomorrow with competition at 12 and 7 p.m. Follow along at www.usacurl.org.
Pete Fenson 010 011 020 01 - 6
Heath McCormick 100 000 102 10 - 5
Tyler George 010 300 100 x - 5
John Shuster 002 020 022 x - 8
Cassie Potter 100 100 400 200 - 8
Allison Pottinger 010 031 030 001 - 9
Erika Brown 220 210 102 x - 10
Courtney George 001 001 010 x - 3
*last rock in first end
Erika Brown (Oakville, Ont.) 1-0
Allison Pottinger (Eden Prairie, Minn.) 1-0
Courtney George (St. Paul, Minn.) 0-1
Cassie Potter (St. Paul, Minn.) 0-1
John Shuster (Duluth, Minn.) 3-0
Pete Fenson (Bemidji, Minn.) 2-1
Tyler George (Duluth, Minn.) 2-2
Heath McCormick (Sarnia, Ont.) 1-2
Brady Clark (Seattle, Wash.) 0-3
USA Curling is webstreaming the round robin action live leading up to the playoffs at www.usacurl.org. NBC Sports Network is slated to air up to 15 hours of live playoff action from Trials.
The women's berth for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games has been secured, whereas the men's berth will need to be earned in December at the final Olympic Qualification Event, Dec. 10-15, in Füssen, Germany. The winner of the men's side of the Olympic Trials will represent the U.S. at the Olympic qualifier.
A complete game schedule, news access guidelines as well as the media accreditation form can be downloaded at www.usacurl.org (click on the Olympic Trials logo).
Winning teams will be nominated to the U.S. Olympic Team pending approval by the United States Olympic Committee.
Visit the USA Curling website at www.usacurl.org and connect with USA Curling on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Foursquare.
For more information: Terry Kolesar, USA Curling, firstname.lastname@example.org, 715-344-1199, Ext. 202, or 608-338-9900 (cell)