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U.S. Olympic Curling Trials: Shuster and Wright win tiebreakers

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U.S. Olympic Curling Trials: Shuster and Wright win tiebreakers
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Olympic bronze medalist John Shuster of Duluth advanced to today's page playoff 1-2 game after a brief tiebreaker game with Todd Birr of Mankato, Thursday at the 2010 U.S. Olympic Team Trials at the Broomfield (Colo.) Event Center.

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Three-time national women's champion Amy Wright of Duluth also led her team to the page playoff 1-2 game after defeating Patti Lank of Niagara Falls, N.Y., 9-5 in a tiebreaker game.

Shuster will now play No. 1 seed Tyler George in today's 1-2 page playoff game. Bemidji's Mark Haluptzok is a member of the George Rink. The winner advances to Saturday's championship final.

The loser of the 1-2 game plays the winner of the game between No. 3 seed Birr and No. 4 seed Craig Brown in tonight's semifinal.

The women's championship final is set for noon Saturday followed by the men's game at 4 p.m. The winning teams will be nominated to the U.S. Olympic Committee as members of Team USA at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games at Vancouver.

Shuster only needed five ends to get past Birr 9-1.

The game started in favor of Birr when Shuster came up short on his draw and gave up a steal of one. But Birr's team wouldn't score again as Shuster's team rattled off nine straight points.

"We caught them on an off day," Shuster said of Birr's team. "Those guys played their hearts out this morning. We just need to continue to stay focused."

Wright faced No. 1 seed Debbie McCormick late Thursday night in the playoffs. Natalie Nicholson of Bemidji is on the McCormick rink.

The winner of the 1-2 game between the tops seeds advances to Saturday's final while the losing team plays the winner of the game between No. 3 ranked Lank and No. 4 seed Erika Brown in tonight's semifinal.

"Today we just focused a little more on making precise shots," said Jordan Moulton of the Wright rink. "Our goal was to be in the 1-2 game. That's what we've been looking forward to."

Wright's team jumped out to an early 4-0 lead after capitalizing on a steal of two points in the second end. Lank, the two-time world silver medalist, put a deuce on the scoreboard in the third end but Wright would reciprocate to pull ahead 6-2. Lank made a takeout for two points in the sixth end only to have Wright draw in for yet another deuce in the seventh. The game ended after the ninth end when Wright made a draw around a center guard to the button to out-count Lank's stone in the four-foot.

The four finalists for the championship in the men's division were determined Thursday morning in the last round-robin draw of the tournament.

Tyler George of Duluth and Deb McCormick of Madison, Wis. claimed the round robin championships, each finishing 8-1.

The men's page playoffs are at 1 p.m. today with the second round at 8 and the final Saturday at 3.

George defeated Greg Romaniuk 8-4.

Bemidji's Pete Fenson served as coach of the Romaniuk rink.

Birr, the defending national champion, and Shuster, who once curled on the Fenson rink, ended two games back at 6-3.

Birr scored twice in the tenth to shade Mark Johnson 7-6 while Shuster closed out Mike Farbelow 11-3 in seven ends. Joe Polo is a member of the Farbelow rink.

Brown turned back Craig Disher 7-2.

The other final round games found Chris Plys, the national Junior Champion, beating Kevin Deeren 9-4 .

Wednesday play

In the final round of women's play Wednesday, McCormick handed Bemidji's Cassie Potter rink a 10-4 loss, scoring three in the third, seventh and ninth to pull away.

The two-time Olympian and 2003 national champ was tied until the seventh before closing strong.

Wright won her final over Gillian Gervais, whose rink includes Bemidjian Sarah Lehman.

Lank had no problems in closing out Cristin Clark in eight ends.

Erika Brown dropped out of the second place picture when she lost her final match to Aileen Sormunen 10-8.

And a game with no connection to the playoffs saw Norma O'Leary beat Charissa Lin 7-4

U.S. OLYMPIC

TEAM TRIALS

Men's Division

9th Draw

Plys 9, Deeren 4

Birr 7, Johnson 6

Brown 7, Disher 2

Shuster 11, Farbelow 3

George 8, Romaniuk 4

Final standings

George 8-1, Birr, Shuster 6-3, Brown 5-4, Romaniuk, Johnson Farbelow 4-5, Disher, Plys 3-6, Deeren 2-7

Tiebreaker

Shuster 9, Birr 1

Women's Division

9th Draw

O'Leary 7, Lin 4

Sormunen 10, Brown 6

McCormick 10, Potter 4

Lank 8, Clark 3

Wright 7, Gervais 4

Finals standings

McCormick 8-1, Lank, Wright 7-2, Brown 6-3, Sormunen 5-4, Potter, O'Leary 4-5. Clark, Gervais 2-7, Lin 0-9

Tiebreaker

Wright 9, Lank 5

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Pioneer staff reports
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