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Nicholson among two named USA Curling Athletes of the Year

Natalie Nicholson of Bemidji and John Shuster of Duluth, Minn., have been named the 2009 USA Curling Athletes of the Year. USA Curling made the announcement today.

Both have been nominated for Team USA for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games after they won the 2010 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for curling in February.

This is the first time they have been honored as individuals. Nicholson twice previously has been a member of a team named Team of the year, in 2004 and 1997. Likewise, Shuster earned Team of the Year honors in 2006.

Nicholson, 33, was the top-ranked curler at the lead position at the 2009 Women's World Championship in South Korea, where the Americas finished ninth. She is a seven-time U.S. women's national champion and two-time U.S. junior women's champion.

Shuster, 26, led his team to a fifth-place finish at the 2009 Ford World's Men's Championship in his first appearance as a skip.