Five things to know about the U.S. Olympic Curling Trials
How can I watch the U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Curling?
Who's playing at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Curling?
Who are the favorites?
The top-seeded rink on the men's side is skipped by John Shuster, who is already a three-time Olympian and an Olympic bronze medalist. Team Shuster has competed together since 2014 and represented the U.S. at the last three world championships, finishing fifth in 2015, winning bronze in 2016 and placing fourth in 2017.
The second-seeded rink is Team Brown, followed by Team McCormick, Team Clark and Team Birr.
In the women's field, Nina Roth's rink are the number one seed and represented the U.S. at the 2017 World Championships, where they finished fifth. However, they aren't the reigning national champions; that honor belongs to Jamie Sinclair's rink, which is the second seed. The two teams are separated by just a few spots on the World Curling Tour rankings, as Team Roth is 12th and Team Sinclair is 15th.
The number three seed is Team Christensen.
What's the competition format?
The Olympic Curling Trials will consist of five days of round-robin play followed by any necessary tiebreakers, then two or three days of playoff games.
During the round-robin stage, which runs from Nov. 11 to Nov. 15, each of the five men's teams will play every other team twice, for a total of eight games per team and twenty games overall. Two games will be held in an afternoon session, and another two will be held in the evening session. One of the five teams will have a bye during each session.
In the women's round-robin, which will be held during the same five days as the men's, each of the three women's teams will play every other team three times. At the end of the round-robin, each team will have played in six games and nine total curling matches will have ben held. One women's game will be played in each session, with the exception of the first session on Saturday, Nov. 11th. One of the three teams will have a bye during each session.
On Thursday, Nov. 16, tiebreaker games will be played during the morning session, and then two men's and two women's teams will advance to the playoff round. The playoffs, which start with the afternoon session on Nov. 16, have a best-of-three format. If the same team wins their playoff game on both Nov. 16 and Friday, Nov. 17, they'll win the Olympic berth and final playoff match scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 18 will not be held. If one team wins the first playoff match and the other wins the second, then the Olympic team will be determined after the third playoff match on Nov. 18.
What are some fun facts?
Here are a few tidbits to impress all the guests at your Olympic Curling Trials watch parties.
There are seven Olympian competing at Trials: John Shuster competed at the 2014, 2010 and 2006 Olympics, and won a bronze medal at the Torino Olympics with Joe Polo, who is now the alternate on Shuster's rink. John Landsteiner and Craig Brown competed at the 2014 Sochi Games, and John Benton, Jason Smith and Chris Plys all played on the U.S. team at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
There are also three Youth Olympians in the field. Sarah Anderson, Taylor Anderson and Korey Dropkin, all 22 years old, competed at the 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria. Dropkin won a bronze medal in mixed doubles at the Games.
The teams chosen to compete in PyeongChang will aim to approve on Team USA's performances at the last two Olympics; the U.S. men finished 10th in Vancouver and ninth in Sochi, while the U.S. women last, 10th out of ten teams, at both the Vancouver and Sochi Games. Their recent results have been much more promising, however, and the Olympic podium is in their sights. At the 2017 World Curling Championships, the U.S. men made it to the playoffs before losing the bronze medal game to Switzerland and finishing fourth. The U.S. women placed fifth at the 2017 Worlds, just one spot short of advancing to the playoffs.
Most of the curlers in the field have full or part-time jobs off the ice. Nina Roth is a registered nurse, Tabitha Peterson is a pharmacist, Tyler George manages a liquor store, John Landsteiner is a corrosion engineer, Craig Brown owns a curling supplies store, Phil Tilker works at Amazon.com as a software developer, Todd Birr is the head ice maker at a Minnesota curling club and Greg Persinger owns a Cold Stone Creamery.
The oldest curler competing is 49-year-old skip Todd Birr, and the youngest is 21-year-old Hunter Clawson, who plays second on Birr's rink.
Many of the curlers competing at the Olympic Trials for the men's and women's teams will also compete in December's Olympic Trials for the mixed doubles team. Mixed doubles is a curling discipline that is being added to the Olympic program for the first time in 2018. In mixed doubles, teams consist of one man and one woman. Matt and Becca Hamilton are both siblings and a top U.S. mixed doubles team that competed at the 2017 World Championships. At the 2016 Worlds, Tabitha Peterson and Joe Polo represented the U.S. and won a bronze medal.
Twins Sarah and Taylor Anderson, who play on Team Christensen, sometimes send each other a secret message during curling games. One of them will pat their heart to tell the other, "You got this."
Skip Jamie Sinclair was born with a hearing disability and sometimes uses sign language with her teammates on the ice. She became a skip when a former coach told her that her hearing disability would prevent her from being a top curler, so she formed her own rink to prove him wrong.
When asked who his most interesting teammate is, John Landsteiner answered, "Matt Hamilton. Find out for yourself. That phase where he drank weird milk for a while. Look at his shoes. Look at his mustache. Ask him about his coffee brewing or his 5 minute pizza oven."
Both Matt Hamilton and Aileen Geving have dogs named Moose. Hamilton's is a golden retriever whose full name is Moosetache, and Geving's is a yellow lab.
Curling is a family affair for Craig Brown; not only does he own a curling supply store started by his father, but his sister is three-time Olympic curler Erika Brown, his father was a three-time national curling champion who coached curling at two Olympics and three Paralympics, and his mother was an alternate for the curling team at the 1988 Olympics.
This will be Brady Clark's fourth time at the U.S. Olympic Curling Trials. His best finish was third in 2006.
Tabitha Peterson did gymnastics when she was growing up, so when she imagined herself going to the Olympics, it was as a gymnast.
Monica Walker is a devoted hockey fan, and as a Boston native says she loves the Bruins.
Nina Roth names Serena Williams as her biggest inspiration in sports. "She's fun to watch," Roth said. "She's not afraid to be a strong competitive woman. That makes her the perfect role model for young women in sport."
John Shuster said that he's "made a huge physical investment over the last four years" and estimates that he's lost about 30 pounds since the Sochi Olympics.
Korey Dropkin said he's spent this last summer eating 4000 calories today to try to put on weight in order to "become more powerful with the broom for the upcoming season."
Chris Plys has a number of tattoos. "I keep trying to cover this ol' canvas up," he said. "I have both ribs done, a sleeve, a mostly finished other arm, some on my legs and chest and back. Most of them have something to do with things that mean the most to me. Whether that be family, significant moments or places... and one or two that I just wanted."