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Eric Peterson, Published November 15 2013

Brown, Shuster in front at U.S. Curling Team Trials

FARGO – When Erika Brown looks down at the ice, she sometimes sees green.

A competitive golfer for years, Brown said her time on the links helps her when she curls.

“There are lots of similarities I feel between the two sports,” Brown said. “I really feel like they have helped me play the other sport by being competitive in both of them.”

Brown was focused on curling Friday afternoon at Scheels Arena. Team Brown scored three points in the seventh end to fuel a 7-5 victory against Team Pottinger in the women’s final at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Curling.

Team Brown has a 1-0 lead in the best-of-3 finals. Game 2 is scheduled for 7 p.m. today. One more win and Brown’s team will represent the United States in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. The four players on Brown’s team have a combined six Olympic appearances.

“I think our experience as a team helps us manage those emotions,” said Jessica Schultz, who plays on Brown’s team and was a 2006 Olympian. “It’s hard because you’ve got to put a leash on your emotions, and all you want to do is jump up and down and be excited and sometimes cry and yell and scream. … You just have to enjoy the moment and focus on each shot.”

Team Shuster also moved a step closer to the Winter Games, earning a 9-8 victory in an extra end against Team Fenson in Game 1 of the men’s final. Game 2 of the best-of-3 series is slated for 2:30 p.m. today. The men’s winner would still need to go to an Olympic Qualifying Event in Germany next month to earn an Olympic spot.

Fenson rallied from an

8-3 deficit through seven ends to force the extra end against Team Shuster.

“Fortunately, we got away with it,” said John Shuster, who lives in Duluth, Minn.

Brown said at one time she was a 3-handicap golfer.

“Not lately,” joked Brown, who lives in Oakville, Ontario.

The muscle memory and mental part of golf and curling are very similar. Both sports also require being cool under pressure.

“It’s all about the process,” Brown added. “I take that from my golfing experience.”

Brown held a 3-2 lead through six ends. Her team took control soon after. Brown capped the seventh end with a shot that gave them three points and a 6-2 lead.

“It’s pretty clear that the seventh end was key,” said Allison Pottinger, who lives in Eden Prairie, Minn. “We just had rocks in the wrong spots with no good angles. We’re giving up way too many 3s this week.”

Team Shuster looked like it would cruise to victory after scoring four points in the sixth end. Shuster added a point in the seventh for an 8-3 lead.

Pete Fenson and his team, however, rallied with two points in the eighth and ninth ends and one point in the 10th end. Shuster missed an open draw for one point in the 10th end, and that tied the game at 8-8.

“That’s something that we’ve made all week, every single time,” Shuster said. “That was the first one I missed this week.”

Shuster recovered in the extra end. He scored a point on a tap out to end the game.

“The comeback was big,” said Fenson, who lives in Bemidji, Minn. “It’s some momentum at the end of the game. We are going to bring that into (today) and hopefully use that to our advantage.”

*Erika Brown 201 000 301 0-7

Allison Pottinger 010 010 020 1-5

*had the final stone in first end

*John Shuster 200 104 100 01-9

Pete Fenson 020 010 022 10-8

*had the 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