Olympic curling began Thursday. With this year's games in South Korea, U.S. enthusiasts of the sport are looking forward to a couple of weeks of staying up late and/or breakfast and curling. To help out fans, the Curling Club of the Berkshires put together a quick guide on when to watch USA curling and how 2018 looks for the Americans (the club also has a helpful Guide to Curling on its website for the uninitiated). If you want to try curling, there are still spots available at Curl Berkshires' Olympic Open House on Feb. 17 for both the 6:30 p.m. session and the 7:30 p.m. session at the Boys & Girls Club in Pittsfield.
Since Pete Fenson and the U.S. men's bronze medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics, things have not gone well for USA curling at the Olympics. In 2010, both the men's team. and the women's team. finished last during the preliminary round. In 2014, the United States won only three of their eighteen combined ga.m.es with the men finishing ninth and the women tenth after the round-robin tournament
The United States should be moving up in 2018, but how much better and do any U.S. teams stand a chance to medal?
The 2018 Winter Olympics will begin with the new Olympic event of mixed doubles curling. Matt Hamilton and Rebecca Hamilton will represent the United States. This brother-sister duo went 9-2 during last year's World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship, losing their two matches (to Russia and the Czech Republic) by a combined three points.
Mixed doubles curling is a relatively new sport and looks to have the most parity of any of the curling competitions. Hamilton-Hamilton will face Olympic athletes from Russia, Switzerland, and Canada (all expected to finish near the top of the competition) at the start the round-robin, a tough test for any team, but if they can navigate through that, they could end up advancing to the playoffs and have a chance at a medal.
Nina Roth (skip), Tabitha Peterson (vice), Aileen Gerving (second), Rebecca Hamilton (lead), and Cory Christensen (alternate) represent the United States in the women's curling competition. Last year, steals by Scotland (Muirhead) in the 10th and 11th ends of a round-robin match cost the Americans a spot in the playoffs and a top four finish at the World Championships. Three of the four teams who finished ahead of the Americans will be in South Korea.
Similar to mixed-doubles, scheduling has not been kind to the Americans as the United States faces three tough opponents right out of the gate. Fujisawa (Japan) defeated Roth twice at the Continental Cup last month while Muirhead (Great Britain) and Tirinzoni (Switzerland) are games where Roth needs positive results to have a playoff chance.
John Shuster skips the U.S. men for the third consecutive Winter Olympics. Shuster is joined by Tyler George (vice), Matt Hamilton (second), John Landsteiner (lead), and Joe Polo (alternate). The American men should be able to put the demons of 2010 and 2014 behind them. In 2017, Shuster's team finished fourth at the World Championships after a third place finish in 2016. Last month, at the Continental Cup of Curling, Shuster led his team. to an impressive 3-0-1 record with victories over Edin (Sweden), Ulsrud (Norway), and De Cruz (Switzerland) – all expected to finish near the top of the standings in PyeongChang. A week later, at the Meridian Canadian Open, Shuster defeated Edin again, as well as Kim (Korea). After two strong weeks of curling (and a 5-0-1 record against other Olympic teams), the American men should have a lot of confidence going into the Olympics. It would not be a surprise if Shuster guided his team into the playoffs.
The American curling teams heading to South Korea have won some big games in the past year and look poised to improve on their 2006 result. However, all three U.S. teams head to PyeongChang in a crowded group of playoff contenders. If the U.S. teams are entering their last round-robin games with a chance to advance to the playoffs, or a shot at a tiebreaker, this will be a successful Olympics. Things are looking up for U.S. curling this year, and the future looks very promising.
Mixed Doubles (times EST)
February 7 – 7:05 p.m. – USA vs Olympic Athletes from Russia
February 8 – 6:05 a.m. – USA vs Canada
February 8 – 6:35 p.m. – USA vs Switzerland
February 8 – 11:35 p.m. – USA vs Korea
February 9 – 7:05 p.m. – USA vs China
February 10 – 6:05 a.m.- USA vs Norway
February 10 – 7:05 p.m. – USA vs Finland
February 11-12 – Tiebreaker/Semifinals
February 12 – 7:05 p.m. – Bronze Medal Game
February 13 – 6:05 a.m. – Gold Medal Game
Men's Curling (times EST)
February 13 – 7:05 p.m. – USA vs Korea
February 15 – 12:05 a.m. – USA vs Italy
February 15 – 7:05 p.m. – USA vs Sweden
February 16 – 6:05 a.m. – USA vs Denmark
February 17 – 7:05 p.m. – USA vs Japan
February 18 – 6:05 a.m. – USA vs Norway
February 19 – 12:05 a.m. – USA vs Canada
February 20 – 6:05 a.m. – USA vs Switzerland
February 21 – 12:05 a.m. – USA vs Great Britain
February 21-22 – Tiebreaker/Semifinals
February 23 – 1:35 a.m. – Bronze Medal Game
February 24 – 1:35 a.m. – Gold Medal Game
Women's Curling (times EST)
February 14 – 12:05 a.m. – USA vs Japan
February 14 – 7:05 p.m. – USA vs Great Britain
February 15 – 6:05 a.m. – USA vs Switzerland
February 16 – 7:05 p.m. – USA vs Olympic Athletes from Russia
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