Playoff field set at 2018 US Olympic Team Trials for Mixed Doubles Curling

By Terry L. Davis | Dec. 16, 2017, 1:48 p.m. (ET)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Dec. 16, 2017

 

Playoffs set at 2018 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Mixed Doubles Curling

 

(BLAINE, Minn.) –  The playoffs of the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Mixed Doubles Curling are officially set as the final session of the round robin concluded this morning at Fogerty Arena.

 

Cory Christensen (Duluth, Minn.) and John Shuster (Superior, Wis.) locked up the top playoff seed with a 10-5 win over Jamie Sinclair (St. Paul, Minn.) and Korey Dropkin (Duluth, Minn.) to improve to 6-1.

 

“It was good after the loss yesterday morning to play two strong games and get that momentum back rolling into the playoffs,” Shuster said.

 

They will take on Becca Hamilton and Matt Hamilton (both of McFarland, Wis.) in tonight’s Page 1-2 playoff game, which will air live on NBCSN.

 

“I don’t know that I’m looking forward to it,” Shuster said about the matchup with his Olympic teammate, Matt. “They played amazing against us (in the round robin). It’s going to be good to go out there and battle against a team that’s obviously one of the best in our country. They’ve become a really great mixed doubles team, and it’s going to be fun to go out there and battle tonight.”

 

The winner of the Page 1-2 game will move on to the championship final on Sunday afternoon. The Hamilton siblings defeated Nina Roth (McFarland, Wis.) and Kroy Nernberger (Madison, Wis.), 8-6, to finish the round robin at 5-2.

 

The Hamiltons started the competition 0-2 and have rattled off five straight wins since.

 

“We’re finally catching our groove. We started off slow and really capitalizing off on misses now and I think that we’re in a good place going into the one-two game,” said Becca Hamilton.

 

Roth and Nernberger also are playoff bound as the No. 4 seed. They’ll take on Vicky Persinger (Fairbanks, Alaska) and Jared Zezel (Mountain Iron, Minn.), who defeated Alex Carlson (St. Paul, Minn.) and Derrick McLean (Bothell, Wash.), 7-4, to improve to 4-3.

 

“There was a little bit of pressure because you know you have to win but you can’t let it bother you. You just have to go out there and play the game,” said Zezel, who was a member of the 2014 Olympic Curling Team.

 

Both playoff games will take place at 9 tonight. The winner of the Page 3-4 game will play the losing side of the Page 1-2 game in a single semifinal match at 10 a.m. Sunday. The winner of the semifinal then becomes the other finalist. The championship final is set for 3 p.m. tomorrow.

 

Persinger and Zezel took control of their match against Carlson and McLean when they made a draw to score four points in the fourth end.

 

“It’s been up and down. We’ve been playing really well. We’ve only had one game that we didn’t play well – the other team made everything. That was against Joe (Polo) and Tab (Peterson) but the rest of them have been real close – just one shot either way so we feel like we can contend for the whole thing,” Zezel said.

 

The Hamiltons took advantage of a miss by Roth in the first end to steal four points. Roth and Nernberger were then forced into a takeout to accept a single point in the second end. They countered with a single steal in the third end only to have the Hamiltons add three more in the fourth when Becca made an open takeout for a 7-2 halftime lead. Roth and Nernberger tried to creep back into the game as Roth drew her final stone into the eight-foot for three points in the sixth end and stole a point in the seventh. Matt Hamilton would seal the win with a dramatic triple takeout in the eighth end.

 

“It was a hard-fought game. We had a nice lead, they battled back and got themselves into a position where they had a chance to win. I don’t particularly like having to make triples in the last end to win when we’re up by two. I’m glad it was setup to make it,” Matt Hamilton said.

 

Christensen and Shuster got off to another strong start and quickly built a 5-1 lead over Sinclair and Dropkin after scoring three points in the third end. Sinclair made a takeout to put two points on the scoreboard in the fourth end to cut into the Christensen-Shuster lead. But, the Duluth Curling Club teammates would add three more in the fifth end to keep their opponents at bay. Another three later in the game sewed up the sixth win and top playoff spot for Christensen and Shuster.

 

“We were able to just get over that [loss yesterday] and come back out to shoot really well the last two games,” Christensen said.

 

When Monica Walker and Jason Smith (both of St. Paul, Minn.) defeated the 2016 world mixed doubles bronze medalists – Tabitha Peterson (St. Paul, Minn.) and Joe Polo (Duluth, Minn.) – no tiebreaker games were needed.

 

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

 

Draw 7 scores: Hamilton-Hamilton 8, Roth-Nernberger 6; Christensen-Shuster 10, Sinclair-Dropkin 5; Persinger-Zezel 7, Carlson-McLean 4; Walker-Smith 6, Peterson-Polo 3

 

Final round robin standings:

Christensen-Shuster       6-1Q (Page 1-2 game)

Hamilton-Hamilton        5-2Q (Page 1-2 game)

Persinger-Zezel                4-3Q (Page 3-4 game)

Roth-Nernberger            4-3Q (Page 3-4 game)

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5. Walker-Smith                            3-4

6. Peterson-Polo             3-4

7. Sinclair-Dropkin          2-5

8. Carlson-McLean         1-6

Q=Qualified to playoffs

 

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 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.

 

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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).