Craig Brown’s journey to Olympic debut opposite of his sister’s
For siblings Craig and Erika Brown, their paths to becoming Olympians have been completely opposite of one another.
Erika Brown, the 41-year-old skip of the U.S. women’s curling team, will be making her third career Olympic appearance in Sochi, after first representing her country as an Olympian as a 15 year old at the 1988 Calgary Games.
Meanwhile, her younger brother, 38-year-old Craig, will finally be making his first Olympic appearance in Sochi, serving as the U.S. men’s curling team’s alternate this February.
“Obviously, it’s been a long struggle attempting to get here,” says Craig Brown. “It’s sinking in, more and more, every day, that I am going.
Embedded owg_slideshow: Looking at the 2014 U.S. women's curling team
“A couple weeks ago, it hadn’t sunk in at all. But, as the last-minute emails are sent, preparations being made with what we have to pack and schedules and we get over there, it will sink in more and more.
“This is sweet.
“Like, I don’t know that it’s any sweeter than if I had won 12 years ago to go to Salt Lake City.
“But, this is really sweet.”
For Craig Brown, a Madison, Wisconsin native who has been a competitive curler for over two decades, the fact that he gets to share his Olympic debut with his sister, Erika, is only fitting.
Because although Erika Brown made her Olympic debut – when curling was held as a demonstration sport – as the youngest member of the delegation that the U.S. sent to Calgary in 1988 while Craig is one of the older first-time Olympians around, Craig Brown admits that if it wasn’t for his sister, he would have never gotten into curling.
“I didn’t take a real shining to the game until I was about 13,” says Craig Brown.
“Erika took a liking to the game a lot sooner than I did – at first, I did not play much at all. I just watched.
Embedded owg_slideshow: Meet the 2014 U.S. men's Olympic curling team
“She went to the Olympics when she was 15, and got to go to Europe a couple times a year to play in competitions.
“I think that’s when I decided that curling might not be so bad. That’s when I got into it.
“I thought that I could do that, too.”
Of course, as anybody who has ever gotten into curling can tell you, mastering the sport’s nuances is usually a lot more difficult than outsiders often suspect they’ll be when they first start curling.
However, for Craig Brown, it wasn’t learning how to curl that was the challenge. His biggest obstacle was separating himself from the field by enough to be selected for an Olympic team, which was a mountain he had been previously unable to scale despite having once been named the U.S Curling Association’s Male Athlete of the Year and winning a U.S. national championship.
So, although Brown will technically be making his trip to Sochi as John Shuster’s rink’s alternate, the extreme length of his journey has him grateful for his opportunity to represent his country, although he’s technically not guaranteed to see any game action.
Embedded video_content_type: SportsDash: The island home of curling stones
After all, it’s not every day that a 38-year-old, first-time Olympian gets to march in to the Olympics’ Opening Ceremony with the person who helped introduce him to his sport as a kid, when that person is also the Olympian’s sister.
“I am really looking forward to sharing the whole experience with Erika, from the ceremonies, to everything,” says Craig Brown. “I am hoping to watch her succeed and get up on the medal stand. That would be fantastic.”
And for his own team?
“I think a medal is the way we’re going to look at it, for it to be a success,” says Craig Brown. “But, as long as we go out there and play as hard as we can, and we play well, I think that even if a medal doesn’t come, that we won’t necessarily be disappointed.”
“But still, it would be nice to take home some hardware.”