(TWO HARBORS, Minn.) - One team is looking defend their title while the other is hoping to realize a dream as the finalists were determined Sunday morning during semifinal action of the 2009 U.S. Mixed Doubles Championship at the Two Harbors Curling Club.
Defending champions Nate and Jamie Haskell (White Bear Lake, Minn.) were the No. 1 ranked team coming in while Brady and Cristin Clark (Lynnwood, Wash.) boast five team mixed titles. They'll square off at noon today for the opportunity to represent the U.S. at the 2009 World Mixed Doubles Championship April 17-25 in Cortina, Italy.
"Things seem to be going our way," Nate Haskell said. "Every game we've tried to be patient and wait for our opportunities."
The Haskells dispatched the team of Miyo Konno (Monroe, Wash.) and Steve Lundeen (Seattle), 9-4, using big scoring ends to their advantage.
"There are always rocks in play to do something with, but it's just a matter of waiting for the right opportunity," Nate Haskell said.
The Haskells, who won the inaugural event last year in Bemidji, Minn., finished 15th out of 24 teams at last year's World Mixed Doubles Championship in Finland. That experience there has helped them this year in their quest to defend their title.
"I think the experience at worlds has helped us simply because we've seen more ends set up and develop and can see what other teams are going to do," Nate Haskell said.
The Clarks jumped out to a big start against Ryan and Jackie Lemke (Medford, Wis.) scoring four points to give them the confidence to get to the championship final for the first time.
"It's good to be there (final), but we got one more game and it's the big one," Brady Clark said.
The Lemkes made them earn it though. Overcoming some earlier snafus, the Lemkes slowly crept back into the game. After the big four-end, the remaining ends featured only scores of one. The Lemkes got a single in the second end when Ryan Lemke couldn't convert a difficult angle runback for two. Brady Clark was forced to make a takeout for a single of his own in the third. The teams would go back-and forth through the seventh end when the Lemkes stole one to pull within two points.
In the eighth end, they did everything they could to have three stones in the house to steal while forcing Brady Clark to draw the eight-foot for the win. Clark coolly drew down to the full four-foot and stamped his ticket to the final. "I was so glad he was throwing that and not me," Cristin Clark said.
The Clarks lost in the semifinals last year to the Haskells. "They won it last year so we'll need to play well," Brady Clark said. "We have a tough opponent with world experience so we expect a battle."
*Haskell 103 103 01 9
Konno 010 010 20 4
*Clark 401 010 01
Lemke 010 101 10 4
*last rock in first end
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