One month after the U.S. Olympic teams were named for curling, eight teams and 16 athletes are competing this week for Olympic berths in mixed doubles curling.
The U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Mixed Doubles Curling continue through Sunday in Blaine, Minnesota. The format, in which each team has one man and one woman, makes its Olympic debut this February in PyeongChang.
Seven athletes competing this week have already qualified with their four-person teams.
Round-robin play started on Wednesday, and the top four teams will advance to the playoffs beginning on Saturday. The winners will be crowned on Sunday.
Here’s where things stood after Thursday night’s competition:
Story Of The Day
Two days into the trials, a clear leader has emerged in Cory Christensen and three-time Olympian John Shuster. The pair was the only unbeaten team left in the trials at 3-0 heading into their third and final game Thursday, when Monica Walker and Jason Smith took them to an extra end.
Smith saved the game for his team with the last rock of the eighth end to tie the game at 5-5, but their placement early in the tiebreaker left Christensen and Shuster with an advantage. As they’ve done all tournament, Shuster and Christensen capitalized on their opponents’ mistakes while limiting their own, and Smith and Walker conceded after their final shot to give Shuster and Christensen a 6-5 win.
At 35 years old, Shuster is one of the two oldest curlers at the trials while Christensen is the youngest woman in the field at 23 years old. Both are already going to the Olympics after Shuster led his four-person team to a win at those Olympic trials last month and Christensen, whose team finished third at the trials, was named the fifth on the women’s team.
Aside from Christensen and Shuster, the team of Nina Roth, the skip of the 2018 U.S. Olympic women’s team, and Kroy Nernberger bounced back from a loss in the opening draw to grab a trio of wins on Thursday. They scored four big points to break an 8-8 tie in the seventh end of their final game against Alex Carlson and Derrick McLean to improve to 3-1.
As Christensen and Shuster look to lock down their spot in the playoffs they’ll face Becca Hamilton and Matt Hamilton, a brother-sister duo who have each already qualified for the 2018 Olympics on four-person teams and who were among the favorites entering the mixed tournament, as well as Roth and Nernberger.