Team USA’s train to the Sochi Olympics is now boarding. With just 80 days until the 2014 Winter Olympics, the Sochi Express has picked up another set of Team USA passengers.
At this weekend’s U.S. Olympic 2014 Team Trials for Curling in Fargo, ND, the four-women curling rink notched its spot on this ride. Rapt Olympics fans nationwide were both curious and amused by this unique sport that captures quizzical attention every four years.
Skip (aka team captain) Erika Brown clinched an Olympics berth for her rink (team) with a clutch hammer (final shot) to sweep an Allison Pottinger rink at Saturday’s bonspiel (tournament)! Fellow teammates Debbie McCormick, Jessica Schultz, and Ann Swisshelm threw their rocks well to the seal the deal.
Brown’s team is loaded with Olympics experience. The 1998 Nagano Olympian can rely on the veteran McCormick (four-time Olympian), Schultz (Torino 2006), and Swisshelm (Salt Lake City 2002) to shine in Russia. The rink will be focused on bringing home a women’s medal for the first time since curling’s introduction in Nagano, Japan.
“We all wanted to get back there [Olympics] that’s for sure. Everyone played so great all week. But the last three games we really played the best we could when we needed to. We played a great team and we just came through it,” Brown said.
Pottinger’s teammates Nicole Joraanstad, Natalie Nicholson, and Tabitha Peterson (Eagan, Minn.) curled tough in this close competition telecasted by NBC Sports.
USA Curling will submit this winning rink to the U.S. Olympic Committee who is expected to approve the nomination by January. The United States had already earned a women’s berth within the eight-country field, and this decision is a slam dunk for these athletes.
On the men’s side, the John Shuster rink bested the Peter Fenson unit on Sunday. However, with this victory, these four curlers must qualify for the Sochi Games at the last chance Olympics qualifying event in Germany next month.
So, the Sochi Express continues its trek – stopping at various USA team trials and team announcement events between now and late January. Qualifying biathletes Lowell Bailey, Tim Burke, and Susan Dunklee, who will also be nominated to the USOC, welcomed these curlers aboard.
Next whistle-stop is the Long Track Team Trials starting on December 27 in Salt Lake City, UT.
Stick with me on this Sochi Express – guaranteed to be an exciting ride!