The event at Curl Mesabi begins in less than a month, on Oct. 26.
Written By: Duluth News Tribune |
Olympic curler John Shuster delivers a stone during league play at the Duluth Curling Club in December 2017. File / News Tribune
The road to the United States Olympic curling team is taking a detour through the Iron Range.
USA Curling announced Monday that the U.S. Olympic Trials for mixed doubles have been moved from Irvine, California to Curl Mesabi in Eveleth, and will take place in a month’s time, from Oct. 26-31.
“Venue access, combined with an overwhelming concern for the delta variant (of COVID-19) and the goal to mitigate the extent of travel required for the majority of participants, led to a decision that prioritizes the health and safety of participants, volunteers, coaches, and staff,” according to a press release from USA Curling.
USA Curling will rent the Eveleth facility for the month of October so it can control access. Most of the nation’s top curlers are based in the Upper Midwest, and the relocation of the venue to Minnesota makes it possible for many of them to get to the event without flying.
The sibling team of Matt and Becca Hamilton (McFarland, Wisconsin) represented Team USA in the first Olympic mixed doubles bonspiel, finishing sixth of eight teams. They are contenders to earn a second berth but will have to earn their spot against several familiar local faces.
John Shuster (Superior), who skipped the U.S. men’s team to Olympic gold in 2018, competes in mixed doubles with Cory Christensen (Duluth). Joe Polo (Duluth) will team with Tabitha Peterson (St. Paul).
Korey Dropkin (Duluth) and Sarah Anderson (Minneapolis) are contenders and Chris Plys (Duluth) and Vicky Persinger (Fairbanks, Alaska) are the defending U.S. champions in mixed doubles, having won their title in Wausau, Wisconsin in May.
Shuster, Polo, Peterson, Christensen and both Hamiltons competed on the men’s and women’s four-person teams in the Pyeongchang Olympics. Qualification for those tournaments will take place separately, at Baxter Arena in Omaha, Nebraska from Nov. 12-21.
The release did not indicate if any spectators or broadcasts will be allowed at the event.
The Olympic mixed doubles curling bonspiel, which will have 10 countries in 2022, will take place at a refitted National Aquatics Centre (known as the “Water Cube” during the 2008 Summer Olympics) beginning Feb. 2.