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Erika Brown rink wins 2015 title

By Terry Kolesar | Feb. 21, 2015, 12 a.m. (ET)

Feb. 21, 2015

Erika Brown wins women's title at 2015 USA Curling National Championships

(KALAMAZOO, Mich.) - One thing Erika Brown knows how to do is win national titles. The highly-decorated skip added one more medal to her growing tally after her team defeated Patti Lank, 7-6, this afternoon to win the 2015 USA Curling Women's National Championship.

Brown (Oakville, Ontario) sealed the victory with a routine takeout at Wings Stadium to earn her eighth women's national title. 

"You know what, I'm really happy. It was a young team, and none of my teammates have won a national title before, a women's national title, and I'm proud they stepped up to the challenge. They did a great job all week," said Brown, 41, who most recently skipped the women's team in Sochi at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

It was the first women's national title for Brown's teammates - Alex Carlson (St. Paul, Minn.), Becca Funk (McFarland, Wis.), and Kendall Behm (Bethesda, Md.). 

"It is very exciting. This is my fifth or sixth year playing women's nationals and I kept coming so close. It's so exciting to make it to the final and play a great final and win. This is just thrilling," said Carlson, 26, who won the U.S. junior title twice and a bronze medal at the 2010 World Juniors. 

Lank's team of Maureen Stolt (Plymouth, Minn.), Anna Bauman (Duluth, Minn.), and Madisson Lank (Lewiston, N.Y.) got off to a slow start but rallied in the second half. 

"The girls, they played good. It's just the ice was a little bit slower and I just didn't give it that extra positive every time I threw my draws," Lank said about the rough start. "Finally it just caught up to me, and I was like, 'Well, geez, just throw something different already. But, we had a good strong second half so that was good. They [Team Brown] had some nice shots; we had a few chances to steal. But Erika [Brown] played well today."

After holding Brown to a single point to begin the game, Team Lank struggled with draw weight in the next few ends that resulted in a steal of four points and the Brown rink had a 5-0 lead. 

The Lank rink finally got on the scoreboard with a draw for a single point in the fifth end. Brown converted an open takeout for a single point in the sixth end to maintain her lead, however. Trying in earnest to get back in the game, Lank was able to put two points on the scoreboard in the seventh end as her draw weight was now in her back pocket. 

Brown's team delivered a delicate draw to the button in the eighth end to avoid the steal with Lank answering with another deuce in the ninth. The 10th end was kept relatively open with Brown sewing up the victory with a takeout with the final stone of the game.

"This year we picked out hard competitions to play in. We didn't just pick ones that we thought would be easy or win-able. It's taught us a lot this season playing the different teams who might play a different strategy we hadn't seen before. We've played a lot of long weekends and a lot games," Carlson said.

The win today was even more meaningful for Team Brown's vice skip, who recently lost one of her biggest supporters.

"He would be so excited for me," Carlson said about her grandfather, who passed away at age 91 on Jan. 31. "He was always cheering for me and was a part of my curling career all through juniors. He watched, cheered, and even when he couldn't be there I'd call him after every game to tell him how I did. It was a bummer that he didn't get to see this one ...but, maybe he did."

The win marks another historical moment for Brown, who is now second all time in national titles behind Olympian Allison Pottinger. Brown has won four Continental Cup titles, the Olympic Trials three times, two silver medals at women's world championships, six U.S. junior titles, three world junior medals, and a mixed national title all since beginning to curl at age 7. She also was named USA Curling's Athlete of the Year four times, including in 2013, and was a member of the association's Team of the Year three times. 

"Well, I don't think you ever celebrate until you shake hands at the end of the game," Brown said. "We knew we were still in charge. We still had the hammer even after we gave up a couple, and we were still in control. We needed to continue to execute. To be a national champion is important and I wanted to win for myself, and I wanted to win for my teammates, and that in itself is a pretty important thing. I think it will help my teammates because I know they want to be competitive at this sport for a long time like I have been."

The men's gold medal game between John Shuster (Duluth, Minn.) and Craig Brown (Madison, Wis.) will take place today at 3 p.m. ET. Watch it live via USA Curling's partnership with the 12th End Sports Network at www.usacurl.org. 

Line scores:
Patti Lank 000 010 202 1 - 6 
*Erika Brown 112 101 010 0 - 7 
*last rock in first end

Gold medalists: Erika Brown (Oakville, Ontario), Alex Carlson (St. Paul, Minn.), Becca Funk (McFarland, Wis.), Kendall Behm (Bethesda, Md.)

Silver medalists: Patti Lank (Lewiston, N.Y.), Maureen Stolt (Plymouth, Minn.), Anna Bauman (Duluth, Minn.), Madisson Lank (Lewiston, N.Y.), Coach Peter Stolt (Plymouth, Minn.)

Bronze medalists: Aileen Sormunen (Duluth, Minn.), Monica Walker (Brighton, Mass.), Tara Peterson (Eagan, Minn.), Vicky Persinger (Fairbanks, Alaska), Coach Scott Baird (Bemidji, Minn.)

The official Twitter hashtags for the event are #2015Nats and #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 at http://www.teamusa.org/USA-Curling/Events/Championships/National-Events/National-Championships.

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.


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