Erika Brown rink captures 2016 national title

By Terry L. Davis | Feb. 12, 2016, 11:15 p.m. (ET)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Feb. 12, 2016

Erika Brown rink wins 2016 National Women’s Championship title

(JACKSONVILLE, Fla.) – The number of championship titles for Team Erika Brown is starting to run onto a second page – and the next chapter started tonight at the 2016 USA Curling National Championships as the team defeated Nina Roth, 8-6, to add one more title to their already impressive curling careers.

This is the 11th national championship title for Allison Pottinger (Eden Prairie, Minn.); ninth for Brown (Oakville, Ontario) and Nicholson (Bemidji, Minn.); and eighth for Joraanstad (Verona, Wis.).

“It’s terrific and they certainly made us work for it today so it feels really good,” said Pottinger, 42. “We just had such a good season and came together quickly as a team, so it’s really nice to cap it off. Winning and becoming the Worlds team early, this is like the cherry on top of the whole thing. Winning a national championship never gets old.”

Brown’s team will represent the U.S. at the 2016 Ford World Women’s Championship March 19-27 in Swift Current, Saskatchewan. In addition, the Brown rink earns a berth in the 2016 Champions Cup, a Grand Slam of Curling event, scheduled April 26-May 1 in Sherwood Park, Alberta. 

“We really wanted to win this championship because even though we sewed up Team USA going to Worlds a couple days ago, it was really important for us to be the national champion representing the United States – it was something we all wanted to do,” Brown said. “For us, that’s the way it’s always been. Team USA is the national champion, and I think we take pride in that. That was important for us.”

The win tonight in the gold medal game at Veterans Memorial Arena was a battle, however, and went into an extra end against Roth (McFarland, Wis.) and her team of Aileen Sormunen (Duluth, Minn.), Monica Walker (Brighton, Mass.), and Vicky Persinger (Fairbanks, Alaska).

“It’s been a long season for us. It’s taken us a little while to gel as a team so it was really important for us to come into this event and do well,” Walker said. “All of us did really well this week – not just one or two of us and then trying to string shots together – so it was really important for this team to cap off the season and play really well. I definitely feel like we left it all out there … and it feels good.”

Brown’s team had control of the second half of the game but a few late game snafus nearly cost the Brown rink the title. “I don’t think it’s ever over until it’s over; we’ve all learned that lesson the hard way a few times,” Brown said.

Team Brown made a hit for one point in the first end to start the offense. Roth answered with a deuce in the second end only to have Brown’s team counter with two points in the fourth.

In the sixth end, facing four Brown stones, Roth had to draw to the button while avoiding two Brown team stones sitting on the top corners of the four-foot. Roth’s sweepers got it to touch a corner of the button to score a single point and tie the game at 3-3.

The Brown rink narrowly swept past stones in the top of the house to draw in for two points in the seventh end and take a 5-3 lead. The team then benefitted from a great hit and roll by Pottinger to leave one of their stones in the four-foot behind guards in the eighth end. Roth was forced to use her first stone to peel a guard to open the path. Brown simply utilized her team’s final rock to re-cover the path to the four-foot. The best option for Roth was to attempt to double angle raise a guard to remove Brown’s rock in scoring position. They got movement on it but not enough to avoid the single steal.

With a comfortable lead, Team Brown made a perfect double takeout with their final stone of the ninth end forced Roth to make a hit and stay to take a point in the ninth. Things got a little dicey for the eventual champions and a heavy draw with the final stone of the game gave Roth’s side a steal of two to force overtime.

The extra end was getting a little more cluttered with stones than Brown’s rink would have liked. It wasn’t until Pottinger made a runback to remove Roth’s stone partially buried in the four-foot that put the end in Team Brown’s favor. The skips exchanged great first shots but Roth’s second takeout attempt rubbed on a guard, which meant that Brown did not have to throw her final rock with the win in hand.

“They were starting to get stuff up front and we knew we had to get something in there and get that one off the four foot. Monica made a really nice shot on top of the four, and we knew we had to get that off there,” Pottinger said about her game-saving shot.

Now with 37 national titles among the four ladies, the Brown rink heads to Swift Current with more medals on their minds.

 “We all feel like we have unfinished business at the world championship, for sure,” Nicholson said. “Our goal is to make the playoffs and medal – a gold medal. We know it’s not going to be easy but we’re ready for the challenge.”

The 2016 World Championships are the first event in which countries can start earning 2018 Olympic qualification points. The U.S. women have not medaled at the world championships since 2006.

“I’ve played with Allison and Natalie forever and I used to play with Erika so it’s like coming home for us. I’m really glad that I made the decision to come back after taking the year off,” Joraanstad said after the win.

The Ann Brown Sportsmanship Award recipient was Katie Sigurdson of Grand Forks, N.D., who plays vice skip on Team Abigayle Lindgren. Her longtime junior coach, Dave Jensen, accepted the award on her behalf. 

The men’s gold medal game will take place at 6 p.m. ET Saturday featuring teams skipped by John Shuster and Brady Clark. A live webstream, scores and standings can be found at www.usacurl.org.

Line score, gold-medal game:

Nina Roth            020 001 001 20 – 6

*Erika Brown     100 200 210 02 – 8

*last rock in first end

Gold medalists, Team Brown: Erika Brown (Oakville, Ontario), Allison Pottinger (Eden Prairie, Minn.), Nicole Joraanstad (Verona, Wis.), Natalie Nicholson (Bemidji, Minn.)

Silver medalists, Team Roth: Nina Roth (McFarland, Wis.), Monica Walker (Brighton, Mass.), Aileen Sormunen (Duluth, Minn.), Vicky Persinger (Fairbanks, Alaska), Coach Ann Swisshelm (Chicago)

Bronze medalists: Team Christensen: Cory Christensen (Duluth, Minn.), Sarah Anderson (Broomall, Pa.), Taylor Anderson (Broomall, Pa.), Madison Bear (Pardeeville, Wis.), Christine McMakin (St. Paul, Minn.), Coach Dave Jensen (Bismarck, N.D.)

Fourth place: Team Sinclair: Jamie Sinclair (St. Paul, Minn.), Tabitha Peterson (Minneapolis, Minn.), Becca Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.), Jenna Haag (Milwaukee, Wis.), Tara Peterson (Eagan, Minn.), Coach Ann Swisshelm (Chicago)

Men’s playoff teams:

Team Clark: Brady Clark (Lynnwood, Wash.), Greg Persinger (Fairbanks, Alaska), Colin Hufman (Seattle), Philip Tilker (Seattle), Coach Ken Trask (Seattle)

Team Shuster: John Shuster (Superior, Wis.), Tyler George (Duluth, Minn.), Matt Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.), John Landsteiner (Duluth, Minn.), Coach Phill Drobnick (Eveleth, Minn.)

Bronze medalists, Team Brown: Craig Brown (Madison, Wis.), Kroy Nernberger (Madison, Wis.), Jared Zezel (Hibbing, Minn.), Sean Beighton (Seattle), Coach Phill Drobnick (Eveleth, Minn.)

Fourth place, Team Dropkin: Korey Dropkin (Southborough, Mass.), Tom Howell (Bentleyville, Ohio), Mark Fenner (Bemidji, Minn.), Alex Fenson (Bemidji, Minn.), Quinn Evenson (Duluth, Minn.), Coach Wally Henry (Beaver Dam, Wis.)

USA Curling is sponsored by AtomOS, Nike, Brooms Up Curling Supplies, CryoMAX, Sitrin, and The RAM Restaurant & Brewery, BalancePlus, Skills.com, and is partnered with Laurie Artiss Ltd. – The Pin People, Hilton HHonors, United Airlines, RJM Licensing Inc., and CurlingZone.

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