2015 Nationals begin Saturday in Kalamazoo

By Terry Kolesar | Feb. 09, 2015, 12 a.m. (ET)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb. 9, 2015

2015 USA Curling National Championships begin Saturday in Kalamazoo

(STEVENS POINT, Wis.) - Kalamazoo, Mich., is set to host the top U.S. curling teams in the nation as the 2015 USA Curling National Championships begin this weekend at Wings Stadium.

The opening ceremony will take place at 2:30 p.m. Saturday prior to the first round of women's competition at 4:30 p.m. ET Saturday. Ten men's and 10 women's teams will compete for this year's national title with the hope of representing the U.S. at the upcoming world championships.

The round robin will take place Saturday through Feb. 19 with the Page playoffs getting underway that evening. This year's field features several Olympians and defending champions. 

Two-time national champion Nina Roth (McFarland, Wis.) captured the title last year with current teammate Becca Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.) and is joined by Jamie Sinclair (Manotick, Ontario), and 2012 U.S. champion Tabitha Peterson (Eagan, Minn.). In addition, members of last year's national championship team - Tara Peterson (Eagan, Minn.) and Sophie Brorson (St. Paul, Minn.) are in the field with new teams. Peterson is playing vice skip for Aileen Sormunen (Duluth, Minn.) while Brorson is lead for Jordan Moulton (Minneapolis, Minn.). The women's field also features several skips who have won the title previously including four-time Olympian Debbie McCormick (Rio, Wis.), five-time national champ Patti Lank (Lewiston, N.Y.), and three-time Olympian Erika Brown (Oakville, Ontario).  

On the men's side, two members of the reigning national championship team return this season as Joe Polo (Duluth, Minn.) and Ryan Brunt (St. Paul, Minn.) are playing front end for Heath McCormick (Sarnia, Ontario) and Olympian Chris Plys (Duluth, Minn.).They are coached by the skip who won the title last year - 2006 Olympic bronze medalist Pete Fenson (Bemidji, Minn.). The men's field also features three-time Olympian John Shuster (Duluth, Minn.) and two-time champion Craig Brown (Madison, Wis.) as well as 2013 champ Brady Clark (Lynnwood, Wash.) as these teams look for a return to the world championship ice. Dean Gemmell (Short Hills, N.J.), who won the national title in 2012 with McCormick, moves up to the skip position this season. 

This year's field also features a few newcomers, including teams led by reigning junior national champions Cory Christensen (Duluth, Minn.) and Ethan Meyers (Duluth, Minn.) as well as the U.S. junior High Performance team skipped by Korey Dropkin (Southborough, Mass.), which features the event's youngest competitor - 15-year-old Luc Violette (Seattle). Thirty-eight-year-old Kate Bert (Cedarburg, Wis.), sister of two-time Olympian Allison Pottinger, is making her skipping debut at Nationals. 2014 U.S. mixed doubles champion Joyance Meechai (New York City) also is making her rookie appearance at the event. Jordan Moulton (Minneapolis, Minn.), while no stranger to Nationals, has moved up to the skip position for the first time at the event. 

The remainder of the field features teams making return appearances in search of either their first national title or a return to the podium after a long absence, including 63-year-old Paul Pustovar (Hibbing, Minn.), who last won the Nationals in 2002 as skip. Two days older than Pustovar is Mark Haluptzok (Bemidji, Minn.), who is throwing lead stones but skipping his team, and is the oldest athlete in this year's field. Teams skipped by Brandon Corbett (Rochester, N.Y.) and Kim Wapola (St. Paul, Minn.) round out the field. 

Along with declaring the new national champions for USA Curling, this event will also determine who will represent the U.S. at the 2015 World Curling Championships. In contrast to years past, the World teams will not automatically be the winners of the Nationals. Last season a points-based Order of Merit system was implemented based on team results at major competitions throughout the season, including the 2015 Nationals. The 2015 World representatives will be the men's and women's teams with the most points that finish in the top three at the 2015 Nationals. To view the current Order of Merit Standings, go to http://www.teamusa.org/USA-Curling/Events/Championships/National-Events/National-Championships/OOM

The 2015 Women's World Championship will take place March 14-22 in Sapporo, Japan, while the 2015 Ford World Men's Championship will be staged March 28-April 5 in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Live webstream will be featured throughout the championship courtesy of USA Curling's partnership with the 12th End Sports Network. All the action from Sheet C/3 will be streamed live. A complete game schedule is available here. In addition, live scores, stats and standings will be available from USA Curling's partner, CurlingZone. 

The official Twitter hashtags for the event will be #2015Nats or #curling. USA Curling will post updates and photos to its Facebook page as well at https://www.facebook.com/pages/USA-Curling/107975609011

Media credentials can be requested in advance and picked up at Wings Stadium. Go to http://www.teamusa.org/USA-Curling/Events/Championships/National-Events/National-Championships to fill out a credential request.  

USA Curling is sponsored by AtomAmpd, Nike, Brooms Up Curling Supplies, Sitrin, The RAM Restaurant & Brewery, BalancePlus, Skills.com, and is partnered with Hilton HHonors, United Airlines, RJM Licensing Inc., and CurlingZone.

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For more information: Terry Kolesar, Director of Communications, terry.kolesar@usacurl.org, 608-338-9900 (mobile) or 715-344-1199, Ext. 202 (office).