The shocker so far from the U.S. curling championships: 2006 bronze medalist Pete Fenson (and top American on the 2012-13 World Curling Tour money list) is out. He finished in a five-way tie for third, then lost the first tiebreaker this afternoon to Heath McCormick.
In the women’s tournament, three teams tied for first, so they ditched the usual Page playoff system and had two semifinals, with the losers going to a third-place game and the winners to the final.
Between the five-way tiebreaker and the women’s muddle, the schedule is difficult to track, so here are the remaining games and broadcast times all in one place.
(Times converted to Eastern)
9 p.m. (TESN.com stream)
– Men’s tiebreaker: Heath McCormick def. Mike Farbelow
– Women’s semifinal: Courtney George def. Alex Carlson
– Women’s semifinal: Erika Brown def. Allison Pottinger
10 a.m. (TESN.com stream)
– Men’s Page playoff 1-2 (winner to final, loser to semi): Tyler George vs. John Shuster
– Men’s Page playoff 3-4 (winner to semi, loser out): Brady Clark vs. Heath McCormick
3 p.m. (Universal Sports)
– Women’s bronze medal: Carlson vs. Pottinger
9 p.m. (Universal Sports)
– Men’s semifinal: T. George-Shuster loser vs. Clark-McCormick winner
10 a.m. (NBC Sports Network)
– Women’s final: C. George vs. Brown
4 p.m. (NBC Sports Network)
– Men’s final: T. George-Shuster winner vs. semifinal winner
About the women’s teams — two loaded with experience, two loaded with youth:
– Six-time national champion Erika Brown has an all-star team. Vice skip Debbie McCormick competed in the 1998 and 2002 Olympics, then skipped a team to win the World Championships in 2003, then returned to the Olympics as a skip in 2010. She won the U.S. title each year from 2006 to 2009, going on to take silver at Worlds in 2006. Jessica Schultz won a 2005 world title and competed in the 2006 Olympics with the famous Cassie Johnson team (come on, you remember). Ann Swisshelm was on the 2002 Olympic team and has been to Worlds four times, winning with McCormick in 2003. Team won two of four events on the World Curling Tour.
– Allison Pottinger, Nicole Joraanstad and Natalie Nicholson are the other three-quarters of McCormick’s 2010 Olympic team. Pottinger also won the 2003 world title with McCormick and Swisshelm. Joraanstad was with McCormick through the four consecutive U.S. titles; Nicholson also was there and won a couple more before that. The lead is Tabitha Peterson. The whole team is the defending champion and played together at Worlds last year. Reached final of Iron Trail Motors Shootout.
– Alexandra Carlson took bronze at the 2010 World Juniors. Her teammates: Monica Walker and sisters Kendall Behm and Jordan Moulton.
– Courtney George was an alternate on Cassie Johnson’s 2006 Olympic team. Teammates Aileen Sormunen and Amanda McLean have World Junior Championship experience; Julie Lilla is a 21-year-old college student.
About the men’s teams:
– 2010 U.S. champion Tyler George (fourth at Worlds that year) actually doesn’t throw the final rocks — 2010 Olympic veteran and 2008 World Junior champion Chris Plys (an entertaining guy to follow on Twitter) handles that. Teammates: 2008 U.S. champ Rich Ruohonen, 2009 U.S. runner-up Colin Hufman. Won the Iron Trails Motors Shootout this season.
– John Shuster has been to two straight Olympics. He was on Pete Fenson’s bronze medalist team, then became a skip himself and made it back in 2010. Jeff Isaacson has been with him several years, including 2010. Jared Zezel and John Landsteiner are students who joined up last year. Won the St. Paul Cash Spiel this season and reached final of Madison Cash Spiel.
– Brady Clark plays a lot of mixed doubles with his wife, Cristin, finishing as high as fourth at Worlds as the couple won USA Curling’s Team of the Year honors. His teammates here are former pole vaulter Sean Beighton, Darren Lehto and Phil Tilker. Reached final of Seattle Cash Spiel.
– Mike Farbelow turns 50 next month but has had his best results in recent years, finishing second at 2010 nationals. Teammates: Kevin Dereen, Kraig Dereen, Mark Lazar.
– Defending champion Heath “Heater” McCormick has the same teammates as last year: Bill Stopera, Martin Sather, Dean Gemmell. Team wears garish jerseys with numbers and names, like a minor league hockey team.
(Earlier versions of this post didn’t quite have this right. See the full criteria if you want all the details.)
The top two teams from the 2012 have already qualified for the 2013 Olympic trials, to be held in November in Fargo, N.D. The team must have three of the same four athletes who earned the spot.
Top two women’s teams last year:
– Pottinger, Joraanstad, Nicholson, Peterson
– Cassie (Johnson) Potter, Jamie (Johnson) Haskell), Jaclyn Lemke, Stephanie Sambor
Top two men’s teams:
– McCormick, Stopera, Sather, Gemmell
– Pete Fenson, Shawn Rojeski, Joe Polo, Ryan Brunt
So here’s the situation:
Women: Only two spots remaining, and only the winner of the final is guaranteed a spot. A committee will choose the fourth team based on World Championships, World Curling Tour and U.S. Nationals in the past three years. This year’s runner-up would certainly be a contender, but so would Carlson (particularly if she wins bronze here) and Patti Lank.
Men: The men have five spots in the trials — maybe. There are two ways they get five:
1. The top two in this year’s nationals will qualify. If one of them isn’t McCormick, then that’s two new qualifiers for a total of four. All four of those teams will go to trials, and the committee will pick a fifth.
2. If McCormick is in the top two, then they’ll only have three qualifiers from the 2012 and 2013 nationals. They will get a fourth, selected by committee. They’ll only get a fifth if the USA has two teams IF the USA has two teams in the top 20 in the World Curling Tour Order of Merit over a two-year span. (This year, they’re nowhere near. And last year, they were nowhere near.)
So the bottom line is that both men’s finalists will make it to Sochi, and the committee will choose another. If McCormick is one of those finalists AND the USA can somehow get some teams into the top 20 (maybe Fenson and McCormick could play and win every remaining event), the committee will choose two teams.