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Forum staff reports , Published November 14 2013

Shuster, Fenson earn spots in men's final at US Olympic Team Trials for Curling

FARGO – Pete Fenson is again finding success at Scheels Arena.

Even though his team lost the only game it played Thursday, Team Fenson advanced to the men’s final at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Curling. Fenson’s team will play Team Shuster in the best-of-3 finals.

Fenson won the last major curling tournament played at Scheels Arena, the 2011 USA Curling National Championships. His team didn’t lose in 11 games en route to a national crown.

“We were undefeated here that year that we won it,” said Fenson, who lives in Bemidji, Minn. “The ice was fabulous. And that’s what we really, really liked here when we won. The ice was so good that we could make everything.”

Fenson’s and John Shuster’s teams play Game 1 of the finals at 2:30 p.m. today. The second game is set for 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Game 3 would be Sunday if necessary. Team Pottinger and Team Brown will meet in the women’s final, which also starts at 2:30 p.m. today. Game 2 is slated for 7 p.m. Saturday. Game 3 would be Sunday if necessary.

“We’ve been just waiting to get into this position,” said Erika Brown, who lives in Oakville, Ontario. “Yes, it’s nerve-wracking, but this is why we play. This is exactly where we want to be. Nerves and all, bring it.”

The women’s winner at the Trials will represent the United States at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. The men’s winner still needs to go to an Olympic Qualifying Event in Germany in December to qualify for Sochi. Eight teams will vie for two Olympic spots.

Shuster is trying to make a second consecutive Winter Games. He was the skip for the team that represented the United States in 2010 in Vancouver.

“It’s pretty cool to be in the final series now,” said Shuster, who lives in Duluth, Minn.

Fenson was the skip for the team that represented the U.S. at the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy. That team won a bronze medal, the first-ever Olympic medal for the U.S. in curling.

Team Shuster earned a 4-3 victory over Team Fenson in the final game of double round-robin play that ended Thursday. Shuster finished with a 6-2 record, while Fenson had a 5-3 record in the round robin, ending up at the top of the five-team field.

“We’ve had a great year,” Shuster said.

Team Pottinger and Team Brown both finished round-robin play with 4-2 marks to separate from the rest of the four-team field.

“We tried to make it a two-step process this week,” said Allison Pottinger, who lives in Eden Prairie, Minn. “Now we’re in there. It’s kind of like reset and start all over so we are really excited.”

Pottinger represented the U.S. at the 2010 Winter Games along with current teammates Nicole Joraanstad and Natalie Nicholson. Debbie McCormick, who now plays for Team Brown, was the skip of that team. McCormick is a three-time Olympian.

“We know each other very well,” Brown said. “We have all been teammates at one time or other for the most part.”

Thursday’s results

Men

*Tyler George 010 010 201 0-5

John Shuster 102 101 010 1-7

*had final stone in first end

Heath McCormick 030 401 02x -10

*Brady Clark 101 020 10x -5

*had final stone in first end

*John Shuster 000 030 010 0-4

Pete Fenson 000 000 101 1-3

*had final stone in first end

Heath McCormick 201 010 211 x-8

Tyler George 020 201 000 x-5

*had final stone in first end

Women

*Courtney George 002 011 101 0-6

Cassie Potter 110 200 020 1-7

*had final stone in first end

Allison Pottinger 010 200 010 0-4

*Erika Brown 001 030 000 1-5

*had final stone in first end


Readers can reach Forum reporter

Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found

at peterson.areavoices.com