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Curling: Pete Fenson switches from curler to coach for USA High Performance Program

Pete Fenson of Bemidji will be a coach for the USA High Performance curling teams. Fenson recently retired from the elite curling competition and now will help the program grow as a coach. USA CURLING PHOTO

STEVENS POINT, Wis. -- Olympians Pete Fenson of Bemidji and Ann Swisshelm of Chicago have been added to USA Curling's High Performance Program (HPP) national coaching staff, according to officials from USA Curling.

Fenson, the skip of the USA’s 2006 bronze medal team, and Swisshelm, a two-time Olympian and 2003 world champion, both recently retired from elite-level curling competition. They will fill the coaching vacancies left by Scott Baird of Bemidji and Al Hackner of Thunder Bay, Ont. who stepped down from day-to-day coaching duties after the 2013-14 season.

“I am delighted to add to Pete and Ann to the national coaching team,” said Derek Brown, USA Curling's director of high performance. “These are two of our most decorated athletes who have been competing at the highest level for over 20 years, and have a combined 13 world championships and three Olympic Games appearances. Pete and Ann have both coached junior teams and have also coached at a number of USA Curling High Performance camps. They will be a fantastic addition to the coaching team, and I am looking forward to working with them.”

The National Coaching Team’s first role will to be to assess and select the High Performance athletes and teams for the 2014-15 season, part of which will include USA Curling's first Combine, which takes place later this month.

Fenson, 46, is the only skip to lead the USA to an Olympic medal-bronze. He has won eight men’s national titles, most recently in 2014. He was named USA Curling’s Athlete of the Year three times (2011, 2005 and 2003) and skipped the United States Olympic Committee’s Team of the Year in 2006 after winning the bronze medal in Torino, Italy. A graduate of Bemidji State University, Fenson owns and operates Dave's Pizza in Bemidji with his wife and two sons.

Swisshelm, 46, most recently represented the U.S. at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games and also was a member of the 2002 Olympic team. She was a member of the only U.S. team to win a gold medal at the women's world championship as a member of the Debbie McCormick rink in 2003.