Korey Dropkin remembers the first time he met Sarah Anderson.
Early in their curling careers — Dropkin was about 10 years old and Anderson 11 — the two were competing in an under-21 event at Dropkin’s home curling club in Wayland, Massachusetts.
During spiels, there is often a get-together or a dance at night for the competitors. At that specific tournament, there was a dance.
“I think he asked me to dance, and I said no,” said Anderson, laughing.
Despite not being granted a dance, Dropkin, now 19, and Anderson, 20, have been close ever since.
“We’ve been good friends for most of our lives,” Dropkin said. “We always had a crush on each other, but it was always long distance.”
For the last three years, the duo has been dating.
|Korey Dropkin, 19, first met his mixed doubles partner (and girlfriend) Sarah Anderson at age 10.
“We used to instant message for a long time. Eventually, we started getting together for the Youth Olympics,” said Anderson, who placed fifth with Dropkin and two other teammates in mixed doubles at the Innsbruck 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games. “We were definitely able to hang out a lot through curling.”
Dropkin, who is a sophomore at the University of Minnesota Duluth, and Anderson, a freshman at the University of Minnesota, have played together about 10 times on mixed four-person curling teams. Last year, the two started talking about entering a mixed doubles event. In their first event as a duo, they won the USA Curling Mixed Doubles National Championship last December in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
Now, the two will be heading to the World Mixed Doubles Championship in Sochi, Russia, on April 18-25.
“We were doing it kind of for fun at first, and then next thing you know we were in the playoffs and then we won it,” Dropkin said about nationals. “We weren’t going in there with the expectation of winning it. Even if we did win it, we didn’t know if we’d actually be able to go (to worlds) because of, one, school work; we’d be missing enough school with our other competitions we have for program team; and, two, because of money.”
Through a healthy bit of fundraising and support from their communities, Dropkin and Anderson will be able to compete at worlds.
The pair make a formidable team. One reason is because they’re so close off the ice. When they are in the heat of competition, the two possess great chemistry.
“Things just go pretty well with communication, and neither of us get down on each other at all,” said Dropkin, who won U.S. junior national championships in 2012 and ’13. “It all works out pretty well. We’re pretty positive and just out there to have fun.”
It can be difficult to juggle the relationship and teammate aspect during competition.
“It’s kind of tricky sometimes, because you have to treat each other as teammates,” Anderson said. “I have the same thing: I curl with my sister (Taylor), and when we were younger I had to treat her like a teammate and not as a sister. We definitely have to keep it professional.”
Dropkin and Anderson seem to have a solid system in place while on the ice. During an eight-end mixed doubles competition, Anderson throws the first and fifth stones at each end and Dropkin throws the middle three rocks.
“It definitely helps we both have a strategic background on our positions and we usually both are thinking the same thing with what we want to call,” Anderson said. “He’s a very good sweeper, so that definitely helps. It works well. We both have our strengths, and I think they complement each other.”
Busy with schoolwork and other numerous responsibilities, including playing with their regular curling teams, Dropkin and Anderson aren’t able to practice together as often as they’d like. However, they attend colleges that are only about 150 miles apart. On occasion, Dropkin is able to head south to the Twin Cities to pick up Anderson so they can practice at the USA Curling training center in Blaine, a northern suburb of Minneapolis. Anderson will also make trips to Duluth less frequently to meet Dropkin for practice sessions.
Dropkin and Anderson are planning to get together as much as possible leading up to worlds. The duo has plenty to work on.
“I think just getting down some team systems, probably, and keeping a lot of communication out there so everything flows well,” Anderson said.
Dropkin, whose highest finish at a world event is fifth in his young career, has lofty expectations for the mixed doubles world championships.
“Our goal is to get on the podium and win a medal for the U.S.,” Dropkin said. “Hopefully, we can play up to our ability and do that.”
Dropkin competed in Sochi in the 2013 World Junior Curling Championships. Anderson will be making her first trip to the site of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
“I definitely think it will be an eye-opener to the mixed doubles worlds,” Anderson said. “I’m excited for it and I know there will be a lot of good competition, so I’ll be able to learn a lot. But I hope to do well while we’re there, too."
Greg Bates is a freelance writer based in Green Bay, Wisconsin, who has covered Green Bay Packers games for a number of media outlets for the past eight seasons. He has been a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org since 2010 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.