Curling: Women's final four set at US Olympic Trials
The final four in the women's division at the U.S. Olympic Curling Trials was set Wednesday afternoon at Broomfield, Colo., though the order was still to be determined.
Erika Brown handed defending champion Deb McCormick her first loss 8-6 and moved into a three-way tie for second with Patti Lank and Amy Wright.
With one round to play, McCormick stands 7-1 with Brown, Lank and Wright all 6-2. Bemidji's Natalie Nicholson is the lead for McCormick.
Meanwhile, another Bemidji curler has clinched a berth in the men's playoffs. Mark Haluptzok is a member of the Tyler George rink of Duluth, which is 7-1 and has locked up the No. 1 playoff seed with one draw remaining this morning.
The George rink improved to 7-1 after defeating Mike Farbelow team, 8-5. They'll be the top seed for the page playoffs set for noon Friday.
"We're just staying focused," said Kevin Johnson, who plays second for Team George. "Our goal was to be in the 1-2 game but with this field, you never know. We're playing with a lot of confidence and know that no one can beat us."
Bemidji's Cassie Potter rink dropped out of contention, falling to Aileen Sormunen of Duluth 8-5 to drop to 4-4.
Those rinks were frequent opponents in their junior curling days. Potter and her sister, Jamie Haskell, were on the U.S. team in the 2006 Olympics.
Brown scored three in the fourth to take a 5-1 lead and two in the sixth to lead 7-3 and held off McCormick down the stretch.
Lank closed out Norma O'Leary 9-1 in four ends while Wright needed one in the tenth to shade Cristin Clark 8-7.
Sormunen and Potter were tied 5-5 after nine but the Duluth curler had the hammer and used it to score three and win 8-5.
The game matched Potter and Haskell against former teammates Maureen Brunt and Jessica Schultz, now playing with Sormunen though Brunt missed the game with illness.
Gillian Gervais, whose rink includes Bemidji's Sarah Lehman, scored five in the seventh and five more in the ninth to bury winless Charissa Lin 15-6
The final women's draw was played late Wednesday night.
Under the new format, the top two teams will play in the opening playoff Friday, with that winner advancing to Saturday's final.
The 3-4 teams also meet in the first round with the loser eliminated and the winner facing the 1-2loser in the second round Friday afternoon for the other final berth.
In the late round Wednesday, Brown faced Sormunen, Lank went against Clark, McCormick faced Potter and Wright met Gervais.
George clinched a playoff berth with an 8-5 win over Mike Farbelow in Wednesday's eighth draw.
Former Bemidjian Joe Polo, who was a member of the 2006 Olympic bronze medal team skipped by Pete Fenson, is playing second for Farbelow.
In other eighth-draw results, Craig Brown edged Mark Johnson 10-8 in an extra end, John Shuster topped Christopher Plys 8-7 in an extra end, Greg Romaniuk beat Kevin Dereen 7-6 and Todd Birr defeated Craig Disher 8-4.
George keeps lead
George maintained his lead Wednesday morning and clinched a playoff berth with a 9-5 win over Junior National champ Plys.
George lay three in the second and fourth to build a 6-2 lead and never surrendered it.
Haluptzok is curling second on the rink.
Other results found national champ Birr dropping two games off the pace, edged 6-5 by Farbelow with a steal of one in the tenth. Bemidji's Joe Polo is the alternate on the Farbelow foursome.
Farbelow, Shuster and Johnson joined Birr at 4-3. Shuster turned back Brown 9-6 and Johnson won over Deeren 8-5.
Disher won the final game 7-0 over Romaniuk in a five end affair. A shutout remains an extreme rarity in curling.
On Tuesday night, George continued his surge with a 7-5 win over Deeren with Romaniuk and Johnson scoring one point victories and Shuster and Brown winning by three and five point margins.
In the women's seventh draw, McCormick scored her key win over Lank, scoring once in the eighth, stealing two in the ninth to tie and another in the tenth for the 8-7decision.
Potter climbed back over the .500 mark to 4-3 with a 6-3 win over Gervais.
That match had a Bemidji flavor with Potter and Haskell on the winning rink and Lehman on the Gervais foursome, all Bemidji natives.
Potter clinched the win with two in the tenth to widen a 4-3 lead.
Sormunen stopped Clank 10-3, Brown shaded Lin 8-7 and Wright won 8-7 over O'Leary in a battle of Duluth foursomes.
Brown 9, McCormick 6
Lank 9, O'Leary 1
Wright 8, Clark 7
Gervais 15, Lin 6
Sormunen 8, Potter 5
McCormick 7-1, Lank, Wright, Brown 6-2, Potter, Sormunen 4-4, O'Leary 3-5, Clark, Gervais 2-6., Lin 0-8
Farbelow 6, Birr 5
Disher 7,.Romamiuk 0
Johnson 8, Deeren 5
George 9, Plys 5
Shuster 9, Brown 6
Brown 10, Johnson 8(x)
Shuster 8, Plys 7 (x)
George 8, Farbelow 5
Romaniuk 7, Dereen 6
Birr 8, Disher 4
George 7-1, Birr, Shuster 5-3, Johnson, Farbelow, Romaniuk, Brown 4-4, Disher 3-5, Deeren, Plys 2-6