Fifth men's team added to Olympic Trials field

By Terry L. Davis | Sept. 27, 2017, 9:09 p.m. (ET)


Sept. 27, 2017

Fifth men’s team added to U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Curling

(STEVENS POINT, Wis.) – The U.S. Curling Association (USCA) Judiciary Hearing Panel presiding over the Todd Birr team right-to-compete grievance regarding the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for curling has sided with the team in a 2-1 vote.

In a decision released by the panel of David Russell, Jessica Schultz and Mark Swandby, the concluding statement said: “A majority of the Panel having decided that Team Birr met its burden of proof, that the Selection Committee did not properly follow the Selection Criteria and abused its discretion, Team Birr should be given a berth in the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for curling.” Russell and Schultz were listed as voting in favor of this decision, with Swandby dissenting.

The U.S. Olympic Team Selection Committee of Derek Brown, Phill Drobnick, Dean Gemmell, Bill Stopera, Leland Rich and Rick Patzke had the responsibility of determining men’s and women’s discretionary team selections for the Trials after only one men’s and one women’s team met the automatic qualification criteria. Per the U.S. Olympic Team Selection Procedures, each gender was to have a minimum of three and maximum of five teams competing in the Trials. Criteria for determining discretionary selections included international and national performance and results, and the committee’s determination of maximizing USA’s chances for international competitive success in the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

The panel’s decision would add the team of Todd Birr, John Benton, Tom O’Connor, and Hunter Clawson as a fifth men’s team to the Trials, set for Nov. 11-18 in Omaha, Neb., unless appealed pursuant to Section 15.11 of the USCA Bylaws.

The Trials will take place Nov. 11-18 at Baxter Arena, a 7,800-seat multi-purpose facility on the University of Nebraska Omaha campus. USA Curling will host the event with UNO’s 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 nominated to the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team, with final 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.

For updates regarding the Trials draw schedule, ticket sales, and TV/webstream, go to

About U.S. Olympic Team Trials

A collaboration between the United States Olympic Committee and its National Governing Bodies, U.S. Olympic Team Trials are held in multiple sports prior to each edition of the Olympic Games and allow athletes to vie for the honor of representing Team USA. Often the last stop in an athlete’s journey to the Olympics, the Trials also offer fans an up-close experience with America’s sports heroes before they go on to compete on the world’s biggest stage. Selection procedures for each sport are developed by the NGBs in concert with the USOC and follow parameters set forth by each International Federation.