USA Curling Features High Performance Pro...

High Performance Program athletes for upcoming season announced

By Terry L. Davis | May 19, 2017, 2:32 p.m. (ET)


May 19, 2017


USA Curling's High Performance Program Team for 2017-18 announced 


(STEVENS POINT, Wis.) – USA Curling’s High Performance Program (HPP) teams had a successful 2016-17 season in which three Olympic berths were secured and U.S. teams achieved six of the eight benchmarks set by the United States Olympic Committee. Twenty-six adult athletes who were a part of HPP last year were invited back and accepted invitations for the 2017-18 season.


In addition, two mixed doubles athletes have been added to the HPP for the upcoming season – 2014 Olympian Jared Zezel (Hibbing, Minn.) and 2010 U.S. junior champion Derrick McLean (Seattle). Both athletes have already qualified to compete in the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team Mixed Doubles Trials with their respective partners, Vicky Persinger (Fairbanks, Alaska) and Alex Carlson (St. Paul, Minn.).


The athlete combine was not used this season as part of the overall selection criteria for the HPP due to this being an Olympic year. The athletes invited into the program were selected by Derek Brown, Director of High Performance, and HPP national coaches, who currently include Scott Baird (Bemidji, Minn.), Phill Drobnick (Eveleth, Minn.), Ann Swisshelm (Chicago), Jake Higgs (Ontario), and Dave Jensen (Bismarck, N.D.). Rick Patzke, USA Curling's chief executive officer, also was involved in overseeing the process.


“There have been very few changes in the HP teams for season 2017-18, which reflects the continued growth and overall improvements the current group of athletes are making,” Brown said. “The focus for our HP teams over the next few months will be ensuring that they are at peak performance for the Olympic Trials in November and December and then again in February for the Olympic Winter Games for the teams that win the Trials.”


During the 2016-17 season, the HPP’s athletes and staff accomplished seven of eight performance benchmarks set by the United States Olympic Committee. The U.S. is one of only three countries that qualified (outright) teams in all three disciplines for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, joining Canada and Switzerland. Korea, as host, receives an automatic berth in all curling events.


The Junior HPP Program, under the direction of Jensen, earned the lone medal for the U.S. this season when Andrew Stopera led the Americans to a silver-medal finish at the World Junior Championships with Mark Lazar (Toledo, Ohio) as coach. Eight women and nine men have been invited to be a part of the Junior Program for the upcoming season, including newcomers Nick Connolly (Seattle), Jonathon Harstad (Duluth, Minn.) and Chase Sinnett (Medfield, Mass.).


“We are very pleased with the 2017-18 application process. There were many qualified applicants, although only a few open spots. Judging by the talent level of the applicants, USA Junior Curling is poised for sustained competitive success at the World Junior Championships for years to come,” Jensen said. “Last year we spent a great deal of time getting the new junior program up and running.  This year the focus will be on program content, along with outreach to broaden a pool of competitive curlers to fuel the program. Additionally, new initiatives such as the U18 National Championships and the new junior qualifier system will provide competitive junior curlers further opportunity to compete and achieve. There is much momentum coming out of last year.”


Those who accepted invitations into the HPP will have a clear understanding of expectations, commitments, competition and training schedules, and funding. Performance goals, targets and measurements will be set and reviewed throughout the year.


The adult HPP athletes will attend a training camp June 20-25 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., as well as additional camps this summer in preparation for the season.


Here is a look at the athletes who accepted invitations into the HPP for the 2017-18 season:



Team Red:

Nina Roth (McFarland, Wis.)*

Tabitha Peterson (Eagan, Minn.)*

Aileen Geving (Duluth, Minn.)*

Becca Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.)*


Team White:

Cory Christensen (Duluth, Minn.)*

Sarah Anderson (Broomall, Pa.)*

Taylor Anderson (Broomall, Pa.)*

Jenna Haag (Milton, Wis.)*


Team Blue:

Jamie Sinclair (St. Paul, Minn.)*

Alex Carlson (St. Paul, Minn.)*

Vicky Persinger (Fairbanks, Alaska)*

Monica Walker (St. Paul, Minn.)*



Team Red:

John Shuster (Superior, Wis.)*

Tyler George (Duluth, Minn.)*

Matt Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.)*

John Landsteiner (Duluth, Minn.)*

Joe Polo (Duluth, Minn.)* 


Team White:

Craig Brown (Madison, Wis.)* 

Kroy Nernberger (Madison, Wis.)* 

Jason Smith (St. Paul, Minn.)*

Sean Beighton (Seattle)*

Quinn Evenson (Fairbanks, Alaska)*


Team Blue:

Heath McCormick (Sarnia, Ontario)*

Chris Plys (Duluth, Minn.)* 

Korey Dropkin (Southborough, Mass.)* 

Tom Howell (Solon, Ohio)*


Mixed doubles:

Jared Zezel (Hibbing, Minn.)

Derrick McLean (Seattle)


Junior Women (listed in alphabetical order):

Team White:

Madison Bear (Portage, Wis.)*

Jenna Burchesky (Walpole, Mass.)*

Annmarie Dubberstein (Portage, Wis.)*

Allison Howell (Solon, Ohio)*


Team Blue:

Cora Farrell (Fairbanks, Alaska)*

Cait Flannery (Mankato, Minn.)*

Lexi Lanigan (Duluth, Minn.)*

Rebecca Miles (Duluth, Minn.)*


Junior men (listed in alphabetical order):

Team White:

Caleb Clawson (Clarksville, Md.)*

Graem Fenson (Bemidji, Minn.)*

Benjamin Richardson (Issaquah, Wash.)*

Andrew Stopera (Ardsley-on-Hudson, N.Y.)*

Luc Violette (Lake Stevens, Wash.)*


Team Blue:

Nick Connolly (Seattle)

Andrew Dunnam (Dresher, Pa.)*

Jonathon Harstad (Duluth, Minn.)

Chase Sinnett (Medfield, Mass.)

*member of 2016-17 HPP team


USOC milestones summary:


  • World Championships – Top 5. Finished 5th; milestone achieved.
  • Grand Slam/Class A events Events – Win at least three games at four or more events. Achieved seven times by women’s HPP teams; milestone achieved.
  • WCT Events – Qualify for semifinals at one or more events. Achieved 11 times by women’s HPP teams; milestone achieved.



  • World Championships – Top 4. Finished 4th; milestone achieved.
  • Grand Slam/Class A Events – At least three wins at four or more events. Achieved four times by men’s HPP teams; milestone achieved.
  • WCT Events – Qualify for semifinals at one or more events. Achieved 11 times by men’s HPP teams; milestone achieved.


Mixed Doubles

  • World Championships – Top 5; milestone not achieved.



  • Order of Merit – Have two teams in the Top 18; milestone achieved.


USA Curling is sponsored by AtomOS, Nike, Brooms Up Curling Supplies, CryoMAX 8-Hour Cold Pack, Sitrin, The RAM Restaurant & Brewery, BalancePlus, and Brakebush, and is partnered with Laurie Artiss Ltd. – The Pin People, United Airlines, 12th End Sports Network, and CurlingZone.




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