Yes, it’s already curling season. In fact, we’re less than two months away from the Olympic Trials, set for Nov. 11-18.
Curling isn’t the most predictable sport in the world, but the four-team (or five, pending an appeal by Todd Birr) men’s competition has a clear favorite. John Shuster has been the skip in the last two Olympics after taking bronze on Pete Fenson’s team in 2006. His current team — Tyler George, Matt Hamilton and John Landsteiner — has qualified for the World Championships three straight years and done no worse than fifth, making the playoffs each of the last two years and the tiebreaker the year before that. They sometimes have wayward results in World Curling Tour events, and Shuster has a slim lead over Heath McCormick in the Order of Merit, but they tend to put it together when needed.
The women’s competition has only three skips competing, but a good case could be made for all three. All are young-ish and relatively inexperienced in major championships. Cory Christensen is the youngest skip, finishing second in the 2016 World Juniors. Nina Roth got the ticket to last year’s Worlds and took a respectable fifth.
But maybe we have a favorite now?
Jamie Sinclair won the Shorty Jenkins Classic this weekend, defeating all six Canadian teams she faced, including seventh-ranked Allison Flaxey and perennial contender Krista McCarville. That win was worth 41.791 Order of Merit points (no, I don’t understand the math involved, either), the biggest one-event total I could find for a U.S. curler over the past 14 months.
Curling is erratically streamed — ESPN3 picks up TSN’s Canadian coverage on occasion — but Team Sinclair is trying to get its games out live this season.