2018 Mixed Doubles Olympic Trials kick off in Blaine

By Terry L. Davis | Dec. 13, 2017, 11:29 p.m. (ET)


Dec. 13, 2017


2018 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Mixed Doubles Curling underway in Minnesota


(BLAINE, Minn.) – The fight to become the first American duo to compete in mixed doubles at the Olympic Winter Games as the the round robin of the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Mixed Doubles Curling got underway tonight at Fogerty Arena.


Olympians John Shuster (Superior, Wis.) and Cory Christensen (Duluth, Minn.) started the event in the win column after defeating fellow Olympians Joe Polo (Duluth, Minn.) and Tabitha Peterson (St. Paul, Minn.), 10-4.


“Our draw weight was spot on and we were able to take advantage of a lot of opportunities out there,” said Shuster, who will compete in his fourth Olympics in February after winning last month’s Olympic Team Trials in Omaha. “That sheet had a ton of curl on it and we were able to read it well.”


Christensen sand Shuster opened the game with three points and added three more in the third end to quickly build a sizable lead. Trailing 6-1, Peterson and Polo used the power play to set up a deuce and close the gap. In the fifth end, Polo’s takeout attempt was converted but his shooter stone rolled to the back corner of the house, giving Christensen a draw for four points to put the game away.


“We decided to use our power play right away after they did to avoid giving them a steal – and it worked out well for us,” said Christensen, who will be the alternate in PyeongChang for the Nina Roth rink.


Jamie Sinclair (St. Paul, Minn.) and Korey Dropkin (Duluth, Minn.) also started out on a positive note as they defeated Monica Walker and 2010 Olympian Jason Smith (both of St. Paul, Minn.), 9-5. After giving up a steal in the opening end, Sinclair and Dropkin quickly took the lead, however, as Sinclair made a takeout to score four points. A raise double takeout from Sinclair forced Smith to draw for a single in the third end but the final shot came up short and the Sinclair-Dropkin rink stole three points.


“We gave up a steal in the first end and that could have been a turning point. There was a brand new end the next end so we said as long as we score we’ll be in a good position. We got fortunate with that four-banger and things fell our way,” Sinclair said.


Smith and Walker put their power play to use in the fourth end but only earned a single and eventually ran out of stones in the four-point loss.  


“We both have a good taste for mixed doubles and are good shooters and trust each other,” said Dropkin, who first competed in the discipline in 2012 at the Winter Youth Olympic Games where he earned a bronze medal for the U.S. “We work well together on the ice and have good communication systems and chemistry. We know that we can manufacture a big end and there was no need to get down after that first end. And that’s what we did – we got that four and followed it up with three more.”


Alex Carlson (St. Paul, Minn.) and Derrick McLean (Seattle) also got into the win column as they held off 2018 Olympians Becca Hamilton and Matt Hamilton (both of McFarland, Wis.), 6-5. After allowing Carlson and McLean to score in the first three ends, the Hamilton siblings converted a double takeout to earn three points to tie the game – but they were never able to gain a lead. Needing two points to force an extra end, the final Hamilton stone of the game didn’t get into second scoring position as Carlson and McLean earned the one-point victory.  


Vicky Persinger (Fairbanks, Alaska) and 2014 Olympian Jared Zezel (Iron Mountain, Minn.) secured a 6-3 triumph over 2018 Olympian Nina Roth (McFarland, Wis.) and partner Kroy Nernberger (Madison, Wis.). Persinger and Zezel got off to a hot start as they put three points on the scoreboard and stole a single point in the following end. Roth and Nernberger could only create singles with the last-rock advantage in the eventual loss.


The round robin continues on Thursday with draw two at 9 a.m. and subsequent rounds at 1:30 p.m., 6 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. The latter two draws will be featured live on NBCSN. The seven-game round robin will continue through Saturday morning. The top four teams will then advance to the playoff round on Saturday night.


Scores, standings and athlete information can be found at www.usacurl.org.  


Draw 1 scores: Christensen-Shuster 10, Peterson-Polo 3; Sinclair-Dropkin 9, Walker-Smith 5; Persinger-Zezel 6, Roth-Nernberger 3; Carlson-McLean 6, Hamilton-Hamilton 5


Standings after Draw 1:

Carlson-McLean                            1-0

Christensen-Shuster       1-0

Persinger-Zezel                1-0

Sinclair-Dropkin              1-0

Hamilton-Hamilton        0-1

Peterson-Polo                  0-1

Roth-Nernberger            0-1

Walker-Smith                  0-1


TV & Webstreaming

Thirteen hours of live TV coverage will take place on NBCSN. NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app — NBC Sports Group’s live streaming platforms for desktops, mobile devices, tablets, and connected TVs — will provide streaming coverage of the live TV games via “TV Everywhere.” NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app are powered by Playmaker Media and available on the iTunes App Store, Google Play, Windows Store, Roku Channel Store, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire.


Live TV schedule, NBCSN:

  • Thursday, Dec. 14, 6 p.m. CT: Monica Walker-Jason Smith vs. Cory Christensen-John Shuster
  • Thursday, Dec. 14, 8:15 p.m. CT: Nina Roth-Kroy Nernberger vs. Alex Carlson-Derrick McLean
  • Friday, Dec. 15, 3 p.m. CT: Tabitha Peterson-Joe Polo vs. Vicky Persinger-Jared Zezel
  • Friday, Dec. 15, 5:15 p.m. CT: Jamie Sinclair-Korey Dropkin vs. Becca Hamilton-Matt Hamilton
  • Saturday, Dec. 16, 9 p.m. CT: Playoff match
  • Sunday, Dec. 17, 3 p.m. CT: Championship final


The team that wins the Mixed Doubles Curling Trials will be named to the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team, pending approval by the United States Olympic Committee. The Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 will take place Feb. 9-25 in South Korea.


About mixed doubles:

Games for mixed doubles are eight ends in length and teams throw five stones, compared to a traditional curling match that lasts 10 ends with eight stones per team. One player throws the first and last rock of the end while their teammate delivers the other three stones. Complete rules and more info can be found at http://www.worldcurling.org/owg2018/about-mixed-doubles-curling. Mixed doubles will debut as an Olympic medal sport in 2018 in PyeongChang, South Korea. Eight countries will compete, and the U.S. is one of only three countries that qualified in all three disciplines, with Canada and Switzerland also achieving that benchmark. (Korea, as host, also will compete in all three.) The Olympic mixed doubles competition will take place Feb. 8-13 prior to the start of the men’s and women’s team competition in Gangneung, South Korea.




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