FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nov. 15, 2017
Sinclair, Shuster earn top playoff seeds at 2018 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Curling
(OMAHA, Neb.) – One more game will be played to determine the other men’s finalist after Todd Birr’s team defeated Heath McCormick tonight as the round robin of the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Curling came to a close.
Birr (Blaine, Minn.) and teammates John Benton (Blaine, Minn.), Hunter Clawson (Clarksville, Md.), and Tom O’Connor (Brooklyn Center, Minn.) defeated McCormick, 8-6, to create a tie between the two sides for second place. John Shuster’s team is the No. 1 playoff seed despite a 5-4 loss tonight to Craig Brown’s rink.
“It didn’t start the way we wanted it, we are not an offensive minded team. We try to take control of games and ends and try not to get into too much trouble. Unfortunately, we were out of our game plan right away. Fortunately, by mid-game we were able to get back in to it,” Birr said.
In the women’s division, Jamie Sinclair’s team took care of business to secure the No. 1 playoff seed as they prepare to take on Nina Roth’s team in the first women’s playoff at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow. Sinclair (St. Paul, Minn.) and teammates Alex Carlson (St. Paul, Minn.), Vicky Persinger (Fairbanks, Alaska), and Monica Walker (St. Paul, Minn.) defeated Cory Christensen’s team, 4-2, tonight to finish the round robin tied with Roth at 4-2. Sinclair’s team earns the No. 1 seed based on a 2-1 record in head-to-head matches against Roth this week.
“We knew we were going to be in the playoffs, but we also knew that if we won this game it would give us the one seed, which gives us a couple advantages in the playoff games, and that was huge to us,” Carlson said. “So, it wasn’t like there was nothing to fight for – this game still meant a ton to us to win and finish 4-2 and get that top seed to get our picks.” Securing the top seed also gave Sinclair’s team choice of rocks to use.
McCormick (Sarnia, Ontario) and his team of Chris Plys (Duluth, Minn.), Korey Dropkin (Duluth, Minn.), and Tom Howell (Milwaukee, Wis.) get a second chance to secure the playoff berth as they take on Birr in the tiebreaker game, which will take place at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow. The winner of the tiebreaker will face Shuster in the first playoff game Thursday night at 6 p.m. Both the men’s and women’s playoffs are a best-of-three series.
Shuster (Superior, Wis.) and teammates Tyler George (Duluth, Minn.), Matt Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.), John Landsteiner (Duluth, Minn.), and Joe Polo (Duluth, Minn.) finished the round robin with a 6-2 record.
McCormick’s team started strong tonight by scoring three points in the opening end. However, things unraveled as Birr’s team settled in and stole points in the fourth and fifth ends to take the lead at the halfway mark.
Birr’s team held McCormick to a single point in the 10th end to force overtime. McCormick’s final stone of the 11th didn’t get into scoring position as it rubbed a rock in the top of the house so Birr didn’t have to throw the last rock of the game with the winning point already in place.
“It was nice to have a control position. I felt really confident as long as we gave our skip, Todd, a shot, he was going to make it,” Clawson said. “So, we just kept it open, we knew we had a path no matter what, and McCormick came up short, so it was an easy finish.”
Sinclair’s team broke open a 1-1 tie in the fourth end with the game’s lone deuce. After holding Christensen’s side to a single point in the seventh end, the team patiently scored a point in the ninth and ran their opponent out of rocks to secure the win.
“I feel like we are cruising now, we had a little slump earlier in the round robin, but now we are getting some wins rolling and figuring out the ice. We are on a roll I think,” Persinger said.
The men’s tiebreaker game will stream live at www.NBCSports.com. The playoffs will be live and on tape delay starting Thursday afternoon on NBCSN. Game scores will be posted online after each draw at www.usacurl.org. Standings and stats also are available.
Draw 11 scores: Brown 5, Shuster 4; Sinclair 4, Christensen 2; Birr 8, McCormick 6 (extra end)
Draw 10 scores: Shuster 7, Birr 2; Roth 8, Christensen 6; Brown 7, Clark 6
Men’s Standings (double round robin):
John Shuster 6-2*
Heath McCormick 5-3**
Todd Birr 5-3**
Craig Brown 3-5
Brady Clark 1-7
Women’s Standings (triple round robin):
Jamie Sinclair 4-2*
Nina Roth 4-2*
Cory Christensen 1-5
*clinched playoff spots
**to play tiebreaker games
8:30 a.m., tiebreaker (McCormick v. Birr)
1:30 p.m., women’s playoff #1 (Sinclair v. Roth)
6 p.m., men’s playoff #1 (Shuster v. winner of tiebreaker)
1 p.m., women’s playoff #2 (Sinclair v. Roth)
6:30 p.m., men’s playoff #2 (Shuster v. winner of tiebreaker)
10 a.m., women’s playoff #3 (Sinclair v. Roth), if needed
6:30 p.m., men’s playoff #3 (Shuster v. winner of tiebreaker), if needed
John Shuster (Superior, Wis.), Tyler George (Duluth, Minn.), Matt Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.), John Landsteiner (Duluth, Minn.), and Joe Polo (Duluth, Minn.)
Jamie Sinclair (St. Paul, Minn.), Alex Carlson (St. Paul, Minn.), Vicky Persinger (Fairbanks, Alaska), and Monica Walker (St. Paul, Minn.)
Nina Roth (McFarland, Wis.), Tabitha Peterson (Eagan, Minn.), Aileen Geving (Duluth, Minn.), and Becca Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.)
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. 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.
For more information: Terry Davis, Director of Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org, 608-338-9900 (mobile) or 715-344-1199, Ext. 202 (office).