Three U.S. curling teams are now within two wins of earning a trip to the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, while the fourth playoff contender has to survive a Thursday morning tiebreaker.
Round-robin play wrapped up on Wednesday night at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Curling in Omaha, Nebraska, and out of eight teams (five men’s and three women’s) the field is down to the teams led by John Shuster, Heath McCormick and Todd Birr for the men and Nina Roth and Jamie Sinclair for the women.
The best-of-three playoffs begin Thursday following the tiebreaker and continue through Saturday night, if necessary, to determine which teams will qualify for PyeongChang.
Here’s how things shaped up on the fifth day of competition:
Men’s Story of the Day: Three-time Olympian John Shuster’s team was first to secure a playoff berth after defeating Todd Birr’s team 7-2 on Wednesday afternoon to clinch the top spot in the men’s standings at 6-1. McCormick and Birr faced one another in the evening session and a win by McCormick would have put his team into the playoff round, but instead the 8-6, 11-end win by Team Birr will send both teams to a Thursday morning tiebreaker. A key deuce by Team McCormick in the 8th end got them back in the game after trailing 5-3, and they scored another point in the 10th to force the extra end, but came up just short.
Women’s Story of the Day: The women’s playoff field was set after the afternoon games as the team skipped by reigning national champion Jamie Sinclair got the top seed and will face two-time national champion Nina Roth’s team. Team Roth, which includes Tabitha Peterson, Aileen Geving and Becca Hamilton, took an early lead against Cory Christensen’s team and held control for an 8-6 win to secure their spot. Team Sinclair, including Alex Carlson, Vicky Persinger and Monica Walker, defeated Team Christensen in the evening for the top spot. All four women on both teams are attempting to make their first Olympic team.
Head to Head: Team Sinclair has a 2-1 record against Team Roth at Olympic trials, outscoring them by a total of 23-20. In the tiebreaker game, Team McCormick and Team Birr have faced one another twice so far with each winning one game.
What’s Next: Team McCormick and Team Birr will have a rematch of Wednesday night’s game at 9:30 a.m. ET with the winner moving on to face Team Shuster in the first of the three-game playoff series at 7 p.m. Team Roth and Team Sinclair will start their best-of-three playoff series at 12:30 p.m. ET on Thursday.
Team Shuster 6-2
Team McCormick 5-3
Team Birr 5-3
Team Brown 3-5
Team Clark 1-7
Team Sinclair 4-2
Team Roth 4-2
Team Christensen 1-5
Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.