(FARGO, N.D.) - The youngest skip in the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team Trials field came up with a big win Tuesday night as the first round robin for the women concluded at Scheels Arena.
Duluth, Minn., native Courtney George, 26, held on to lead her team to a 7-5 victory over 2010 Olympian Allison Pottinger (Eden Prairie, Minn.).
"We knew that we would have really tough competition tonight. We knew that Allison and her team are fabulous and it's always, always a tough game against them so coming out and getting it when it matters was a big deal to us," George said after the win. "We're headed in the right direction now."
Trailing 6-3, Pottinger was forced to draw for a single point in the eighth end. A couple of misses by Team George in the ninth end resulted in Team Pottinger stealing a single to pull within a point. George and teammates Aileen Sormunen (Duluth, Minn.), Amanda McLean (St. Paul, Minn.), and Monica Walker (Brighton, Mass.) would hold on for the victory, which puts them in a three-way tie for first place with Pottinger and Erika Brown.
Brown (Oakville, Ontario) and teammates Debbie McCormick (Rio, Wis.), Jessica Schultz (Minneapolis, Minn.), and Ann Swisshelm (Chicago) led throughout the match but had to wait for the final stone to secure the 8-7 win over 2006 Olympian Cassie Potter (St. Paul, Minn.).
Leading the whole game, Team Brown extended its lead to three points when Brown drew for a single aided by strong sweeping from Schultz and Swisshelm in the seventh end. Potter, facing three Brown stones, was forced to settle for one point in the next end. After holding Brown to a single in the ninth, Potter's team had the game set up to score three points to force an extra end. With just 32 seconds to throw her two stones, Potter's final rock got over-swept and Team Brown escaped with the victory.
"We know every game is huge here," said McCormick, a three-time Olympian (2010, 2002, 1998), who works as a curling supplies distributor for Goldline. "We had a very close, tough game against Allison Pottinger's team today. We felt like we were in control a lot of that game, but it was kind of back and forth and it was a tough loss, but you know, we bounced back. There's still a long way to go and still a lot of games left so we're just taking it one game at a time, one rock at a time and we all feel good and we're all playing great." Team Brown shot 86 percent, same as team Potter.
In the men's division, John Shuster's team improved to 4-1 to remain in the top position as they cruised to a 7-2 win over Brady Clark's rink (1-4).
Tyler George led his team to an overtime victory over Pete Fenson, 7-6, in a back-and-forth match. The Fenson rink took the lead back in the eighth end with a hit and stick for two points. Lots of rocks were in play in the ninth end and George (Duluth, Minn.) and teammates Chris Plys (Duluth, Minn.), Rich Ruohonen (Minneapolis, Minn.), and Colin Hufman (Seattle) regained the lead with a deuce.
In the 10th end, Plys used his team's final throw to tap forward his own stone and freeze it to the Fenson rock on the button. After Team Fenson was unable to find a path to score two points, the measurement determined a single point was scored by the Bemidji rink to send the game into an extra end. In the 11th, Plys just needed to draw the button to secure the victory. With the win, Team George improves to 3-2, the same record as the Fenson and his team of Shawn Rojeski (Chisholm, Minn.), Joe Polo (Duluth, Minn.), and Ryan Brunt (Portage, Wis.).
The action continues with draws tomorrow at 12 and 7 p.m. The women's second round robin pairings are posted at www.usacurl.org.
Tyler George 201 000 102 01 - 7
*Pete Fenson 020 001 020 10 - 6
Erika Brown 022 020 101 0 - 8
*Cassie Potter 100 102 010 2 - 7
Courtney George 010 004 100 1 - 7
*Allison Pottinger 100 110 011 0 - 5
John Shuster 102 40x xxx x - 7
*Brady Clark 010 01x xxx x - 2
*last rock in first end
Erika Brown (Oakville, Ont.) 2-1
Allison Pottinger (Eden Prairie, Minn.) 2-1
Courtney George (St. Paul, Minn.) 2-1
Cassie Potter (St. Paul, Minn.) 0-3
John Shuster (Duluth, Minn.) 4-1
Tyler George (Duluth, Minn.) 3-2
Pete Fenson (Bemidji, Minn.) 3-2
Heath McCormick (Sarnia, Ont.) 1-3
Brady Clark (Seattle, Wash.) 1-4
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)