2018 U.S. Olympic Team Trials begin Saturday in Omaha

By Terry L. Davis | Nov. 08, 2017, 5:27 p.m. (ET)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Nov. 8, 2017

2018 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Curling begin Saturday in Omaha

(STEVENS POINT, Wis.) – A field of three women’s and five men’s teams will vie for the right to represent the United States at the upcoming Olympic Winter Games when the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Curling get underway Saturday at Baxter Arena in Omaha, Neb.

The round robin starts at 1 p.m. on Saturday followed by the opening ceremony at 5:30 p.m. A second draw of competition will take place at 7 p.m. Saturday. The round robin will continue through Wednesday night. If needed, tiebreakers will take place on Thursday morning. The playoffs, a best two-out-of-three series will begin on Nov. 16 and continue through Nov. 18, if needed. The five men’s teams will play a double round robin while the women will have a triple round robin. The top two men’s and women’s teams will then advance to the finals.

USA Curling is hosting the event with Baxter Arena and the Omaha Sports Commission, in partnership with the Aksarben Curling Club and the United States Olympic Committee.

A live webstream of the round robin and any tiebreaker games will be featured exclusively on NBCSports.com and on the NBC Sports app. NBCSN will broadcast the playoffs live and on delay. A complete schedule is posted at https://www.teamusa.org/USA-Curling/Features/2017/November/02/NBC-announces-coverage-of-upcoming-events.

The Trials field will feature seven Olympians – John Shuster (2014, 2010, 2006), John Landsteiner (2014), Craig Brown (2014), Chris Plys (2010), Jason Smith (2010), John Benton (Blaine, Minn.), and Joe Polo (2006). Shuster has a perfect record at the Trials after winning the last three. Shuster (Superior, Wis.) and his team of Tyler George (Duluth, Minn.), Matt Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.), John Landsteiner (Duluth, Minn.), and Joe Polo (Duluth, Minn.) won the 2017 National Championships and finished fourth at the 2017 World Men’s Championship. The team started its competitive season in August and has had three playoff showings in World Curling Tour (WCT) events to rank No. 18 in the world.

 

Heath McCormick (Sarnia, Ontario) leads his team in his second Olympic Trials. McCormick, who won the U.S. men’s national title in 2012, is teamed with 2010 Olympian Chris Plys (Duluth, Minn.), Korey Dropkin (Duluth, Minn.), Tom Howell (Milwaukee, Wis.), and Rich Ruohonen (Brooklyn Park, Minn.). The McCormick rink won the St. Paul Cashspiel in October and is featured in NBCSN’s current season of “Curling Night in America.” Team McCormick is currently ranked No. 19 in the world.

 

Brady Clark (Lynnwood, Wash.) is appearing in his fourth Olympic Team Trials. Clark is teamed up with Greg Persinger (Fairbanks, Alaska), Colin Hufman (St. Paul, Minn.), and Philip Tilker (Seattle). The foursome won the national title in 2016 and have had a strong season with four playoff appearances to currently rank No. 25 in the world. Brown (Madison, Wis.) and his team of Jason Smith (St. Paul, Minn.), Kroy Nernberger (Madison, Wis.), Sean Beighton (Seattle), and Quinn Evenson (Duluth, Minn.) come into the Trials with a successful season that includes three playoff showings at World Curling Tour events to rank No. 28.

 

Todd Birr, who won a bronze at the World Men’s Championship in 2007, leads his team as he makes his third Trials appearance. Birr is teamed up with 2010 Olympian John Benton (Blaine, Minn.), Hunter Clawson (Clarksville, Md.), and Tom O’Connor (Brooklyn Center, Minn.). The Birr rink was runner-up at last year’s Men’s National Championship and has been on a great run at competitions in the past month with multiple playoff performances.

 

The women’s field will produce first-time Olympians as a young group battles for the gold. Cory Christensen is the youngest skip in the field at age 22 but knows how to win after earning the U.S. junior national title four times. Christensen (Duluth, Minn.) leads the young squad of twins Sarah Anderson and Taylor Anderson, students at the University of Minnesota; and Jenna Martin (Wauwatosa, Wis.). The team has competed in seven WCT events in preparation, making the playoffs three times.

 

The other two competing women’s teams battled in last year’s National Championship final as Jamie Sinclair (St. Paul, Minn.) and Nina Roth (McFarland, Wis.) both have their teams in the Top 10 on the World Curling Tour Year to Date Standings. Sinclair’s team of Alex Carlson (St. Paul, Minn.), Vicky Persinger (Fairbanks, Alaska) and Monica Walker (St. Paul, Minn.) prevailed in the 2017 Nationals and have had a solid season with two appearances at Grand Slam events, including a quarterfinal showing two weeks ago in Saskatchewan. Roth and her team of Tabitha Peterson (St. Paul, Minn.), Aileen Geving (Duluth, Minn.), and Becca Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.) finished fifth at last year’s World Women’s Championship and won the Canad Inns Classic last month as they head into Omaha on a high note.

The men’s and women’s teams that win the 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, where the U.S. will be among a field of 10 men’s and 10 women’s teams competing for Olympic gold. The 2018 U.S. Olympic Mixed Doubles Team Trials will take place Dec. 13-17 at Fogerty Arena in Blaine, Minn., to determine the American team to compete in mixed doubles when the discipline is featured as an Olympic medal sport for the first time. Many of the athletes competing in the Olympic Team Trials in Omaha also are qualified for the eight-team Mixed Doubles Olympic Team Trials.

 

Here is a look at the competing teams for the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team Trials:

 

Women’s field:

Team Christensen: Cory Christensen (Duluth, Minn.), Sarah Anderson (Minneapolis, Minn.), Taylor Anderson (Minneapolis, Minn.), Jenna Martin (Wauwatosa, Wis.)

 

Team Roth: Nina Roth (McFarland, Wis.), Tabitha Peterson (Eagan, Minn.), Aileen Geving (Duluth, Minn.), Becca Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.)

 

Team Sinclair: Jamie Sinclair (St. Paul, Minn.), Alex Carlson (St. Paul, Minn.), Vicky Persinger (Fairbanks, Alaska), Monica Walker (St. Paul, Minn.)

 

Men’s field:

Team Birr: Todd Birr (Blaine, Minn.), John Benton (Blaine, Minn.), Hunter Clawson (Clarksville, Md.), Tom O’Connor (Brooklyn Center, Minn.)

 

Team Brown: Craig Brown (Madison, Wis.), Kroy Nernberger (Madison, Wis.), Jason Smith (St. Paul, Minn.), Sean Beighton (Seattle), Quinn Evenson (Fairbanks, Alaska)

 

Team Clark: Brady Clark (Seattle), Greg Persinger (Fairbanks, Alaska), Colin Hufman (St. Paul, Minn.), Phil Tilker (Seattle)

 

Team McCormick: Heath McCormick (Sarnia, Ontario), Chris Plys (Duluth, Minn.), Korey Dropkin (Duluth, Minn.), Tom Howell (Milwaukee, Wis.), Rich Ruohonen (Brooklyn Park, Minn.)

 

Team Shuster: John Shuster (Superior, Wis.), Tyler George (Duluth, Minn.), Matt Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.), John Landsteiner (Duluth, Minn.), Joe Polo (Duluth, Minn.)

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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).