The U.S. Olympic Team Curling Trials continued Saturday in Omaha, Nebraska, with both the men and women seeing action throughout the day. There were three featured matchups for Day 2: on the women's side, Team Strouse vs. Team Peterson in the morning and Team Christensen vs. Team Sinclair in the evening, and on the men's side, an afternoon duel between Team Ruohonen vs. Team Dropkin.
Below is a roundup of Saturday's featured matchups along with on-demand replays.
Team Strouse vs. Team Peterson
Team Peterson and Team Strouse were neck and neck for the first half of their tilt, but a big three-point sixth end provided Tabitha Peterson's squad a nice five-point cushion. Team Peterson, also consisting of Nina Roth, Becca Hamilton and Tara Peterson, wound up sealing the 8-5 victory for their first win of the Trials, though Delaney Strouse's team did make an admirable push late in the game to narrow the gap.
It was Roth who skipped Team USA's women's curling team at the PyeongChang Olympics in 2018, but Peterson is hoping this victory will be her first of many in the leadup to February as she looks to skip at the Olympics for the first time in her career.
REPLAY: Team Strouse vs. Team Peterson
In other opening draw games, Team Christensen took care of Team Rhyme – making its Trials debut – 9-1 after a Kim Rhyme concession following the sixth end, and a similar spread took place in Team Bear vs. Team Sinclair with perhaps an unexpected victor. Also competing in her first Trials, Madison Bear helped lead an eight-point run from the fourth to seventh ends to put away 2020 and 2021 U.S. runner-up Jamie Sinclair and her team 10-2.
Team Ruohonen vs. Team Dropkin
Having both lost their openers Friday, Teams Ruohonen and Dropkin each entered the matchup in search of their first wins of the tournament.
Team Dropkin third Joe Polo threw a runback triple on his last rock of the second end, and after a miss by Rich Ruohonen, Korey Dropkin split for an early four points. Ruohonen countered with a deuce in the next end to make it 4-2 Team Dropkin. Another poor miss in the fourth from Ruohonen enabled Dropkin a chance for a deuce himself, but he missed as well and only added one to make it 5-2. In the sixth with a chance for two, Ruohonen got one to hang on, cutting Dropkin’s lead to two.
Polo came up big again in the seventh end in a battle of the thirds vs. Team Ruohonen’s Andrew Stopera, hitting the low rock for a double, after which Dropkin made it 6-3. Ruohonen played for three on his last throw of the eighth end and only got one, giving Team Dropkin another point for 7-3, and while his team brought it within three in the ninth they ran out of ends and conceded down 7-4 in the 10th to make it final.
Dropkin, the reigning U.S. champion, progressed to 1-1, while Ruohonen, the 2020 U.S. runner-up, remained winless. For Sunday, they were respectively set to face Teams Persinger and Brundidge and Teams Shuster and Dunnam.
“We came out strong [Friday] and just had a couple unfortunate breaks, had to battle back and didn’t quite get there,” Team Dropkin lead Tom Howell said. “Good to get this game [Saturday] under us and start to feel more comfortable … [the Olympics are] the pinnacle of the sport, so we’re trying to get to a place that we’ve been working to get to our whole lives … you really feel the energy out there.”
REPLAY: Team Ruohonen vs. Team Dropkin
Elsewhere on other sheets, following his team’s big 9-5 win Friday against Dropkin, Scott Dunnam conceded to Team Shuster 9-3 after eight ends, while Team Persinger turned a close 5-4 advantage through seven into a 10-4 blowout, to which Team Brundidge conceded. Teams Shuster and Brundidge remain the only rinks unbeaten in the men’s draws.
Team Christensen vs. Team Sinclair
After wildly different opening results for each team in the morning – a convincing 9-1 victory for Team Christensen and a lopsided 10-2 loss for Team Sinclair – the two faced off Saturday night in a rematch of the 2021 U.S. National Championship in which Cory Christensen beat Jamie Sinclair 8-6. Less than five months after that final, Christensen's team prevailed again in the first matchup between the rinks at U.S. Trials, beating Sinclair and her team 9-6 in a back and forth game.
Sinclair had a chance for a double in the first end but a misthrow produced just one point to open scoring. After Team Sinclair's second Cora Farrell pulled off a brilliant last shot to double, Team Christensen battled back to gain the advantage. But Christensen then finished the end just like Sinclair did, squandering a double for only one point. Thus both skips missed shots for two in consecutive frames.
Team Christensen went to work in the third, creating a series of jams to steal three and go up 4-1. Rare consecutive complete misses by Team Christensen in the fourth would later set up Team Sinclair for a chance to close with three and tie. But Sinclair's last throw was off target, as evidenced by her muttering "sorry" upon release, rolling out and yielding just two to come within one.
In the fifth end, Christensen shot a beautiful draw to the button to score one. Sinclair had another chance for two in the sixth but overcurled her shot for just one, keeping it close down 5-4. Team Christensen then put the game away, scoring one in the seventh and with good shots early in the eighth guarded for another steal of three to extend its lead 9-4. Sinclair added two in the ninth and the game ended in the 10th 9-6.
Team Christensen moved to 2-0, the only women's team yet to have lost, while Team Sinclair dropped to 0-2. Each had a midday matchup Sunday: Christensen was set to face Peterson while Sinclair took on Strouse.
Also playing in the evening draw, Team Strouse scored early for a 5-0 lead through the first three ends and defeated Team Bear 8-3 for its first win of the tournament, and Team Rhyme held off Team Peterson 7-5 in a close matchup that went a full 10.