Philly Sports Live

Fanfare – Day 1 at the US Curling Nationals

With all the bagpipery and Mummer festivity of a New Year’s Day, the 2014 US National Curling Championships kicked off at Aston IceWorks.

The tournament kicked off with the women’s competition, and the most exciting match of the first session featured three time Olympian Allison Pottinger’s rink take on the local team, lead by 18-year old Sarah Anderson.  Anderson’s rink led 4-2 with two ends remaining, but Pottinger took one point in the ninth and then one point in the tenth to send it to the extra end.  There, the St. Paul, Minnesota side stole two points, and the match.  Though Anderson, her twin sister Taylor, and their teammates came up short, they could be proud of their effort against one of the sport’s veterans.

The other Extra End match saw 2011 champion Caitlin Maroldo guide her team back from a 7-4 deficit to a 10-8 win over the Grand Forks, North Dakota rink skipped by Abigayle Lindgren.  The Rochester, New York team was victorious despite only shooting 69% for the match.

Alex Carlson’s team also started off the tournament on a positive note, building up an 7-2 lead on Amy Lou Anderson’s rink to hang on for an 8-6 victory.  Cassie Potter’s team turned back Courtney George’s rink 8-6; her teammates hit over 80% of their shots — a very good rating in curling — en route to the win.  Finally, Nina Spatolla’s rink cruised to a 12-2 win over Seattle’s Gabrielle Coleman.

On the men’s side, 2014 Olympian John Shuster and his team shot the lights out, but still nearly blew an 8-2 lead to go on and win 10-8 over the defending national champion rink skipped by Brady Clark, also of Seattle.  Shuster’s Olympic performances in Vancouver and Sochi have been marked with inconstancy, and the allowance of two three-point ends by Clark nearly wasted a performance that saw all of Shuster’s team shoot over 80%; a rare feat in the sport.

Pete Fenson, who was the runner up the last time the tournament was in Aston, started his 2014 campaign with an easy 7-2 win over Madison, Wisconsin’s Craig Brown.  Pete’s brother, Eric, was not as fortunate, as his rink dropped a 6-4 decision to Rochester’s Alex Leichter.  Peter Stolt, whose wife Maureen is playing on the women’s side for Team Coleman, saw his own team score once in each of the last three ends to steal an 8-6 result from Tyler George.  Lastly, a battle of two Deluth, Minnesota rinks saw Team Heath McCormick sail to an 8-5 win over Paul Postovar.

Earlier, the teams were introduced and the opening to the competition was provided by the Philly Funtimers string band and bagpipes, mixing both local tradition and that of the Scottish origins of curling.  John Shuster’s Olympic rink was honored for their performance, as well as women’s Olympian Anne Swisshelm, who did not qualify for the nationals.  State Representative Joe Hackett, noting that most of the participants were from the more Northerly climes,  joked that, as a token of Delaware County’s hospitality, they would presented with the gift of a winter snowstorm for them to take home with.  The storm, which is supposed to bring 6-10 inches to the Delaware Valley on Monday, may threaten that day’s play if bad enough.

Coverage of the 2014 US Curling Nationals continues on Sunday.  I’ll be at the Sunday morning matches tweeting the action @PhillySportLive and @BigBrain61.

US Women’s National Championship, Round 1 Results

Potter 8, George 6 (9)
Maroldo 10, Lindgren 8 (11)
Carlson 8, A. Anderson 6 (9)
Pottinger 6, S. Anderson 4 (11)
Spatola 12, Coleman 2 (7)

US Women’s National Championship, Round 2 – Sunday, 8am

Spatola (1-0) vs A. Anderson (0-1)
Coleman (0-1) vs George (0-1)
S. Anderson (0-1) v Lindgren (0-1)
Carlson (1-0) v Maroldo (1-0)
Pottinger (1-0) v Potter (1-0)

US Women’s National Championship, Round 3 – Sunday, 4pm

Carlson v Lindgren
A. Anderson v Pottinger
Maroldo v Spatola
Coleman v Potter
S. Anderson v George

US Men’s National Championship, Round 1

Stolt 8, George 6
Shuster 10, Clark 8
P. Fenson 7, Brown 2 (8)
Leichter 6, E. Fenson 4
McCormick 8, Pustovar 5 (9)

US Men’s National Championship, Round 2 – Sunday, Noon

McCormick (1-0) v Brown (0-1)
Pustovar (0-1) v George (0-1)
E. Fenson (0-1) v Clark (0-1)
P. Fenson (1-0) v Shuster (1-0)
Leichter (1-0) v Stolt (1-0)

US Men’s National Championship, Round 3 – Sunday, 8pm

P. Fenson v Clark
Brown v Leichter
Shuster v McCormick
Pustovar v Stolt
E. Fenson v George