Team USA’s past
The U.S. has struggled in international mixed doubles curling since it debuted at the Olympics in 2018. During the last Winter Games, the brother and sister duo of Matt and Becca Hamilton finished sixth after going 2-5 in group play. The duo of Joe Polo and Tabitha Peterson took over representing the U.S. and finished eighth at the most recent World Championships.
This year’s players
At this year’s Olympics, the U.S. will be represented by Persinger and Plys. Persinger is a 29-year-old from Fairbanks, Alaska. She has participated in the Curling World Championships three times, each time in women’s curling. Her team’s best world finish was fourth place in 2018.
Plys is most well-known as the newest member of Team Shuster, the U.S. men’s curling team that won gold in PyeongChang in 2018, and will also be competing in this year’s Games. Plys joined Team Shuster in 2019 and has competed with them in two World Championships, including the team’s most recent fifth place finish last year. The 34-year-old from Duluth, Minnesota, will compete in his first Olympics, but this year won’t be his first Olympic experience. He was an alternate on the U.S. men’s team during the Vancouver Games in 2010. Like Matt Hamilton during the last Games, Plys will be pulling double-duty in both mixed doubles and men’s curling at the 2022 Olympics.
How they got to the games
After joining forces in 2018, Persinger and Plys have been the hottest mixed double duo in the U.S. for the better part of two years. They won the 2021 national championship and last October defeated Jamie Sinclair and Rich Ruohonen to win the U.S. Olympic Trials and get the chance to represent Team USA. Winning the U.S. Trials still didn’t guarantee the team a spot in the Olympics, though. The duo had to continue their hot streak into December at an Olympic Qualification Event in the Netherlands. After going a perfect 5-0 in the tournament to reach the finals, Persinger and Plys defeated the team from the Russian Olympic Committee to officially make their Olympic dreams come true.
“I feel like I worked a long time to get to these Olympic Games, and to finally be here, I feel so grateful,” Persinger said this week during a pre-Olympics press conference. “I had some heartbreak, for sure, in the last go-around. Mixed doubles isn’t even a discipline which we place all of our focus on, so I’ve been really lucky to be able to team up with Chris. “We went through the wringer to get here. Our Olympic trials in the States were very tough. In my opinion, we had five teams which could have represented our country very well here, so to get through that was a huge sigh of relief. But it never meant we were going for sure so that one was weird to handle emotionally. We were excited that our road had not ended.”
“I’m very much looking forward to playing the Aussies," Plys said. "Them getting to expand the sport of curling to another continent on the Olympic stage is something that I think is very cool.”
You never know when you’re going to get the chance to come back and experience something like this,” Plys said at the press conference .“Ever since the Olympics ended in 2018 they start showing you the venues and planting these little seeds that you start dreaming about from that moment on.
Team USA’s schedule
(All games listed EST)
Wednesday, 7 a.m. – USA vs. Australia
Wednesday, 8 p.m. – USA vs. Italy
Thursday, 1 a.m. – USA vs. Norway
Friday, 12:30 a.m. – USA vs. Sweden
Saturday, 1 a.m. – USA vs. China
Saturday, 7 a.m. – USA vs. Canada
Saturday, 8 p.m. - USA vs. Czech Republic
Sunday, 7 a.m. – USA vs. Switzerland
Sunday, 8 p.m. – USA vs. Great Britain