U.S. 2006 Olympian Jamie Haskell and her husband Nate won the inaugural U.S. Mixed Doubles Championship Sunday afternoon at the Bemidji Curling Club.
"The whole game I tried so hard not to think about what might happen," Nate Haskell said of the championship title. "It wasn't until Jamie got in the hack that I started to feel a little light-headed. It's hard to believe. We're pretty excited."
The Haskells will now represent the U.S. at the World Mixed Doubles Championship March 8-15 in Vierumaki, Finland, after defeating Derek Surka and Charrissa Lin of New Haven, Conn., 8-7.
It was a shaky start for Surka and Lin as their first three stones were short of the house. The Haskells dropped in four stones in the back of the house. Surka only removed one giving Jamie Haskell a hit for four.
"The ice was really curling," Lin said. "It was curling faster than any of the other sheets this week."
The Haskells got into trouble in the second end after missing shots and watching Lin capitalize on them to place four stones around the four foot. Jamie Haskell shook up the pot but gave Surka an open draw for four.
It was an up and down end for both teams in the third. A double takeout by Nate Haskell left three Haskell stones in the house but Lin answered with a double takeout of her own. A few stones later, Jamie Haskell was forced to draw full four-foot but came up an inch too deep giving up the steal.
"It's obviously a heartbreaker to come so close," Lin said. "Both teams played really well. They'll be great representatives for the U.S."
Jamie Haskell made a perfect freeze with her team's first stone of the fourth end after Surka was short with his. Lin came in a little wide on her freeze attempt so Nate Haskell dropped another beauty into the pot. Lin couldn't catch a break on her double takeout attempt, removing just one but she got the double on the next try and Surka grabbed shot stone with his team's last toss. Jamie Haskell didn't quite have enough weight on her last toss to nudge his stone out, giving up another steal.
In the fifth end, the Haskells got two in early and Nate just skimmed past a guard to stick his on the button and lie three, but Surka cut them down to two with a takeout. Jamie tried to grab three, maybe four, points with her takeout but came in a little wide and had to settle for two to tie the game.
In the sixth, the Haskells got one guarded around the button with a mess of guards in front of the house. Surka attempted a raise to chip out the Haskells stone for two but didn't get enough of the raised stone to remove the shot stone. In the seventh, the Haskells put the pressure on them again lying three when Surka went to throw his last stone. He aptly bounced in between two Haskell stones around the four foot for one.
With a stone buried on the button in the final end, the Haskells chose to runback a Surka-Lin stone on the top of the house instead of peeling it which resulted in a jam that removed their own stone. Nate Haskell bailed the team out with a double takeout to open the house back up. Surka drew to the four foot but Jamie Haskell outdid him for the win.
"I just wish I had played better," Surka said. "It was just inches."
Mixed doubles features two players per team as opposed to the traditional four-person curling teams. Each game consists of eight ends with variations from the regular game.
Each team delivers five stones per end with one player delivering the first and fifth stones and the other team member throwing the stones in between. Prior to the start of each end, one team instructs the game umpire to place their team's stationary stone and the opposing team's stationary stone either as a guard outside the house bisecting the center line or on the back half of the button.
Sweeping is allowed but with just two players that means either the thrower will sweep their own stone or the other team member will leave the house to sweep.