(FARGO, N.D.) - An experienced group of Olympians will be showcased for the women's playoffs as Erika Brown and Allison Pottinger are set to face off Friday afternoon with the chance to make Team USA for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
"We had a couple of tough, close losses, which were frustrating, but we have short memories. We try to put those aside and focus on the next one and this one was a big one for us," said Brown (Oakville, Ontario/Madison, Wis.), who was a member of the 1998 Olympic team and is the reigning national champion. "Everyone played really well today. They made a lot of great shots."
Pottinger's rink clinched their spot last night and when Brown and teammates Debbie McCormick (Rio, Wis.), Jessica Schultz (Minneapolis, Minn.), and Ann Swisshelm (Chicago) defeated Pottinger, 5-4, this afternoon at Scheels Arena, they secured the final women's playoff berth at the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team Trials.
"We tried to make it a two-step process this week. One was qualify and make sure we were in that final three and now we're in there so it's kind of like reset and start all over ... so we're pretty excited," said Pottinger (Eden Prairie, Minn.), who was a member of the 2010 Olympic team.
The two teams will now compete in a best two-out-of-three playoff format beginning at 2:30 p.m. CT Friday. The game will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network.
"We're ready for it. You know, being down to the last rock probably every game with that team. We're like, you know, we're both kind of ready to play," Pottinger said.
The game today between the two veteran skips went down to the final shot with Brown securing the win with a routine takeout.
"They're a great team. I think all of the games we play against them will probably be a lot like that one - back and forth and close. Whoever stays an inch better is going to win. I'm looking forward to it," said Brown, who works as a physician assistant in Ontario.
In the men's division, three teams are still in contention. Pete Fenson's team (5-2) had the bye this afternoon and have secured at least a tiebreaker game based on their record. They'll play John Shuster's rink in the round robin finale today. Shuster's team defeated the Tyler George rink, 7-5, to improve to 5-2.
"We had to at least win one today to have a chance. I don't look at the stats like those guys do. We wanted to come in and have two good games today," said Jeff Isaacson (Gilbert, Minn.), vice skip for Team Shuster.
The loss dropped the Tyler George rink to 4-3. George (Duluth, Minn.) and teammates Chris Plys (Duluth, Minn.), Rich Ruohonen (Minneapolis, Minn.), and Colin Hufman (Seattle) will take on Heath McCormick's rink (3-4) today. If the George rink wins that match, they'll be a tiebreaker game tonight (matchups will depend upon the results between Shuster and Fenson).
Shuster's team took a 4-1 advantage early on and held on for the win with Shuster's final stone of the game to earn their fifth win.
"We got a good two in three [third end] that was looking like we were going to be forced, and we got the two. That really got momentum going our way. They didn't see that coming and were obviously upset by it," Isaacson said. "We played a good fourth and got a steal and then the game was pretty much in control."
The playoffs get underway at 2:30 p.m. Friday with the first game for men's and women's finalists.
The second playoff game for the men will take place at 2:30 p.m. Saturday followed by the second women's game at 7 p.m. If needed, the final men's game will be played at 11 a.m. Sunday with the women's competition potentially concluding at 2 p.m.
*Courtney George 002 011 101 0 - 6
Cassie Potter 110 200 020 1 - 7
*Tyler George 010 010 201 0 - 5
John Shuster 102 101 010 0 - 7
Heath McCormick 030 401 02x x - 10
*Brady Clark 101 020 10x x - 5
Allison Pottinger 010 200 010 0 - 4
*Erika Brown 001 030 000 1 - 5
*last rock in first end
*Erika Brown (Oakville, Ont.) 4-2
*Allison Pottinger (Eden Prairie, Minn.) 4-2
Cassie Potter (St. Paul, Minn.) 2-4
Courtney George (St. Paul, Minn.) 2-4
*clinched a playoff spot
**Pete Fenson (Bemidji, Minn.) 5-2
**John Shuster (Duluth, Minn.) 5-2
Tyler George (Duluth, Minn.) 4-3
Heath McCormick (Sarnia, Ont.) 3-4
Brady Clark (Seattle, Wash.) 1-7
**clinched a minimum of a tiebreaker game
NBC Sports Network is slated to air up to 15 hours of live playoff action from Trials beginning with the playoffs on Friday at 2:30 p.m. CT and continuing through the weekend. If a game three is not necessary, the games from Saturday will be re-aired.
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, email@example.com, 715-344-1199, Ext. 202, or 608-338-9900 (cell)