Playoff race heats up at 2018 Mixed Doubles Team Trials

By Terry L. Davis | Dec. 15, 2017, 6:27 p.m. (ET)


Dec. 15, 2017


Race for the playoffs heats up at 2018 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Mixed Doubles Curling


(BLAINE, Minn.) –  The push for the playoffs was in full swing this afternoon at Fogerty Arena as day three of the round robin of the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Mixed Doubles Curling developed. 


Cory Christensen (Duluth, Minn.) and John Shuster (Superior, Wis.) were knocked from the unbeaten ranks by Becca Hamilton and Matt Hamilton (both of McFarland, Wis.) during this afternoon’s action at Fogerty Arena. The win was third straight for the Hamiltons after an 0-2 start.


“We took those first two losses on the chin and it kind of gave us a wakeup call. There’s no easy games out here. We just have to go out and play our game,” Matt Hamilton said after the win. “We know how good we can be and know that we’ve got a handle on the ice, I think we can start stacking them.”


The 8-6 win for the Hamiltons improves them to 3-2 in the seven-game round robin that concludes on Saturday morning.


After starting the game with a deuce, the Hamilton siblings held Christensen and Shuster to a single point in the following end when their final draw was delivered too light. They got that point back, however, with a single steal in the third end in an end that could have easily saw Christensen and Shuster score a bundle had Becca Hamilton not played the right weight on a hit and freeze attempt.


Matt Hamilton’s third stone of the fourth end was a perfect draw to cover the button surrounded by four other stones in the four-foot. Christensen’s final stone was light again, which gave Becca Hamilton a chance to draw into that pile of granite for three. Her stone also was light so they accepted two points instead for a 4-2 halftime lead. A missed double takeout with Becca’s last stone of the fifth allowed Christensen to draw anywhere in the rings for three points to take the lead.


In the sixth, the Hamiltons quickly had four stones in the house. Christensen removed one, giving Becca a hit to take four points and pull ahead 8-5. Christensen and Shuster were held to a single point in the seventh and ran out of rocks in the eighth.


“That was a great shot to get that four. She actually slid out and said, ‘Oh we’re in trouble.’ She adjusted nicely and, obviously, I had to go the whole way but made the shot,” Hamilton said. “The real game saver was in the third end. She made a hit and freeze to lay second against five and forced then to try and draw for second. It didn’t work out. We were looking at giving up three for sure, maybe more but she made an absolute dandy to keep us in the game. She played great today.”


Nina Roth (McFarland, Wis.) and Kroy Nernberger (Madison, Wis.) improved to 4-1 to move into a tie for first place with Christensen and Shuster as they defeated Jamie Sinclair (St. Paul, Minn.) and Korey Dropkin (Duluth, Minn.), 9-5.


Sinclair and Dropkin attempted to use their own stone to hit and roll off of to remove a Roth-Nernberger stone in the opening end but didn’t capitalize as they gave up a single steal. The duo countered with a deuce but a few half shots allowed Roth to draw into the house for three points in the third. After holding Sinclair and Dropkin to a single in the fourth, Roth and Nernberger set the house up well and made a takeout to score two more. Sinclair and Dropkin then used their power play to generate some offense in the sixth end as they made a takeout to score two and cut into the lead. Roth and Nerberger played a solid seventh end with the power play that resulted in three more points to pad their lead. Sinclair and Dropkin would run out of granite in the eighth end as they lost their third straight game.


In the late afternoon session, Tabitha Peterson (St. Paul, Minn.) and Joe Polo (Duluth, Minn.) secured their second win of the round robin with a 7-3 defeat of Vicky Persinger (Fairbanks, Alaska) and Jared Zezel (Mountain Iron, Minn.). Monica Walker and Jason Smith (both of St. Paul, Minn.) kept pace by defeating Alex Carlson (St. Paul, Minn.) and Derrick McLean (Bothell, Wash.), 9-5, to create a four-way tie for fourth place with the Sinclair-Dropkin and Persinger-Zezel rinks.


“We’re just trying to go one end at a time, one shot at a time and not think too far ahead. We know where we’re at and are taking it one step at a time,” said Smith, who was a member of the 2010 Olympic Team.


After a modest start to the game in which both sides took singles, the offense heated up in the third end as Carlson and McLean scored three points. Walker and Smith countered with three in the following end and the capitalized on a miss to steal two in the fifth. After holding Carlson and McLean to a single in the sixth, Walker and Smith used the power play and scored three points when Smith converted a double takeout that propelled them to the win.


“It was great. It was a little bit risky because we talked about just taking our one and going up by two for the last end. We decided to go for it and he was confident that he was gonna make it, so it was awesome,” Walker said about the final shot in the seventh.


“Looking at it, at first I was thinking about playing the draw. Then we called a timeout to think about it. I got in the hack and saw that I could see half of it. I was like ‘okay if I kill it and roll out, we only give them one and it’s not the end of the world.’ I figured I could get a piece of it and thankfully I did,” Smith said.


Trailing 6-1 after giving up a steal of two in the fifth, Persinger and Zezel used their power play to set up a deuce in an effort to get back into the game. Peterson and Polo escaped the seventh end with a single and ran their opponent out of granite for the win.


After the round robin concludes on Saturday morning, the top four teams will advance to the playoff round on Saturday night. Scores, standings and athlete information can be found at


Draw 5 scores: Roth-Nernberger 9, Sinclair-Dropkin 5; Hamilton-Hamilton 8, Christensen-Shuster 6; Peterson-Polo 7, Persinger-Zezel 3; Walker-Smith 9, Carlson-McLean 5


Standings after Draw 5:

Christensen-Shuster       4-1

Roth-Nernberger            4-1

Hamilton-Hamilton        3-2

Persinger-Zezel                2-3

Peterson-Polo                  2-3

Sinclair-Dropkin              2-3

Walker-Smith                  2-3

Carlson-McLean                            1-4


Live TV schedule, NBCSN:

  • Saturday, 9 p.m. CT: Playoff match
  • Sunday, 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 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,, 608-338-9900 (mobile) or 715-344-1199, Ext. 202 (office).