Curling Preview
Team USA is hungrier than ever after two less-than-stellar Olympic performances in 2010 and 2014. After winning bronze at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games – the first Olympic medal for the U.S. curling program – Team USA will be looking for a chance to return to the Olympic podium in PyeongChang, South Korea.

At the Vancouver Games in 2010, both American teams finished last in the round robin and out of medal contention. A similar fate awaited the U.S. teams in Sochi in 2014 as the U.S. men finished ninth and the U.S. women placed 10th. However, fresh off the 2016season in which Team USA brought home five world championship medals, the U.S. curling teams have high hopes for PyeongChang 2018. A key component to this shift in success has been the U.S. High Performance Program, which continues to develop, and offer additional training methods and mental-skills assessments to U.S. athletes.

The introduction of mixed doubles as an Olympic discipline and medal sport creates another opportunity for U.S. athletes in curling. Mixed doubles is a faster-paced version of the traditional four-person game featuring one male and one female athlete per team. While less rocks are thrown, the degree of difficulty at times can be higher and more dramatic. The introduction of mixed doubles also allows for growth of the sport worldwide as many countries with fewer elite curlers can more readily put together a two-person team as opposed to the previously required four-person teams for international competitions. Team USA won its first mixed doubles curling medal, a bronze, at the 2016 World Mixed Doubles Championship and look to contest for an Olympic podium spot in PyeongChang.

Storylines

  • Curling continues to grow across the U.S., with many new curlers entering the sport as a result of the “Curling Night in America” series on NBCSN, which has aired each winter since 2014. There are now curling clubs in 43 of 50 U.S. states and the association reached 20,000 members for the first time in 2015. Las Vegas has surfaced as a new hotbed for curling after hosting three successful Continental Cup events. Las Vegas also will host the 2018 World Men’s Curling Championship in April. Phoenix made history in 2014 when the Coyotes Curling Club completed building the first dedicated curling facility in the southwest. Other nontraditional curling areas that have since built clubs include Durham, North Carolina and Marietta, Georgia. In addition, states such as Florida and Hawaii continue to show strong development for future clubs.

  • The introduction of mixed doubles as an Olympic medal sport in 2018 is probably the biggest storyline for the sport as athletes will now have the opportunity for an additional medal in curling in PyeongChang and beyond. Mixed doubles teams are composed of two athletes (one male, one female) and the game has slight variations from the traditional four-person curling that fans are accustomed to watching. Pre-placed stones at the start of each end create more rocks in play and more high-caliber shots. The games are eight ends in length (men’s and women’s games are 10) and teams only throw five stones, which makes the game faster and more appealing to a television audience. With only two players (versus four in traditional curling), the duos can opt to have their teammate either sweep for them or stand at the other end of the sheet to act as skip and help gauge where the stone will stop. At times, athletes may have to deliver a stone and get up quickly to then sweep their own stone. This is a dramatic change from the traditional sport.

  • One-third of the members of USA Curling’s High Performance Program are under age 25, which is a significant change from past years. Led by 2012 Youth Olympians Korey Dropkin, Tom Howell, Sarah Anderson and twin sister Taylor Anderson, a group of nine young athletes are finding success competing in men’s, women’s and mixed doubles championships, both nationally and internationally.

  • Much of the 2015-16 season was enveloped with what many called “Broomgate” as brooms were being developed using a type of fabric that was able to manipulate the placement of stones, greatly impacting the integrity of the sport that prides itself on camaraderie and sportsmanship. Extensive testing during the offseason by the World Curling Federation showed evidence of damage from the fabric and several brooms have since been banned, restoring integrity to the sport.

Athletes To Watch

John Shuster 
Shuster (Superior, Wisconsin) has been a steady member of Team USA at the past three Olympic Games, multiple world championships and other international events. At age 35, he remains one of the top skips in the U.S.  Shuster led his men’s team to the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team Trials title,improving to a 4-0 lifetime record at U.S. Olympic Team Trials. He is set to make his fourth appearance at the Olympic Winter Games – a record for a male curler from the U.S.

Nina Roth
Nina Roth (Madison, Wisconsin) is set to lead an all-rookie women’s team in PyeongChang. The 29-year-old registered nurse has proved to be one of the top female skips the past few seasons and benefits from the mentorship of many past Olympians who have come from the storied Madison Curling Club. Roth led the American women to a fifth-place finish at the 2017 World Women’s Championship in Beijing, China, as she made her skipping debut at a world women’s championship.

Becca Hamilton and Matt Hamilton
These dynamic and hilarious siblings from McFarland, Wisconsin, will carry the heaviest load for Team USA, qualifying to compete with their respective women’s and men’s teams and in mixed doubles. Becca Hamilton, 27, and Matt Hamilton, 28, won the 2017 Mixed Doubles National Championship, finished 10th at the 2017 World Mixed Doubles Championship, and then rattled off seven straight wins to win the 2018 U.S. Olympic Mixed Doubles Team Trials in December. 

 

Qualification

The U.S. clinched its first mixed doubles quota spot in Olympic history with a top-10 finish at the 2017 World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship in Lethbridge, Alberta. The U.S. will be among the eight countries to compete in the event, which will make its Olympic debut in 2018.

The U.S. men’s and women’s curling teams have also earned Olympic berths based on their performances from world championships. John Shuster’s rink and Nina Roth’s rink finished fourth and fifth to secure national quota spots for Team USA.

Nations qualify for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in curling by earning points at the two preceding world championships for men’s, women’s and mixed doubles in 2016 and 2017. At the conclusion of the 2017 World Championships, the top-nine countries (men’s and women’s) earn an automatic qualifying spot to the 2018 Olympics, with the 10th spot automatically awarded to Korea as the host nation. In mixed doubles, the top-seven countries qualify, with Korea completing the eight-team field.

Click here to view the complete 2018 Olympic qualification procedures for curling.

Selection

The U.S. men’s and women’s teams  will be determined at the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Curling in November, while the mixed doubles team will be determined at the 2018 U.S. Olympic Mixed Doubles Team Trials in December.

Click here to view the complete 2018 Olympic selection procedures from USA Curling.

Editor’s Note: This selection process overview is designed to provide general information only and should not be relied upon by athletes attempting to make the U.S. Olympic Team. The selection process is formally governed by selection procedures published by each National Governing Body. Athletes and other individuals interested in the selection process should contact the appropriate NGB to obtain the full selection procedures, or to seek clarification of the process.

Key Dates

Nov. 12-19

2018 U.S. Olympic Team Trials

Omaha, Nebraska

Dec. 13-17

2018 U.S. Olympic Mixed Doubles Team Trials

Blaine, Minnesota

Jan. 11-14 Continental Cup of Curling  London, Ontario