US Olympics Trials 2013 Curling: Examining America's Path to Sochi

Richard LangfordCorrespondent INovember 11, 2013

BROONFIELD, CO - FEBRUARY 28:  Skip Tyler George (rear) leaves the ice as his team of Kevin Johnson (L) Mark Haluptzok (C) and Kris Perkovich fail to sweep George's final stone to the home thus being defeated by Team John Shuster in the Men's US Curling Olympic Trials Finals at the Broomfield Event Center on February 28, 2009 in Broomfield, Colorado. Team John Shuster defeated Team Tyler George and will represent the USA in the 2010 Winter Olympics.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The winner of the United States men's curling Olympics Trials won't be booking their trips to Sochi just yet, as the men will still have some qualifying ahead of them. 

The winner of the women's side from the Nov. 10-17 Trials at the Scheels Arena in Fargo, N.D., will have a little more reason to celebrate. The women's representative has a spot in the Sochi Games waiting for them.

The women have had a lot of the heavy lifting of qualification already done for them, with the performance of the team in the past two World Women’s Curling Championships securing a spot in the 2014 Olympics. 

Meanwhile, the men missed a guaranteed spot in the upcoming Olympics by just one place. 

Ten nations will compete for the men's medal in Sochi. Eight have already qualified. Host nation Russia gets an automatic bid. The other seven automatic qualifiers were based on the top teams from the combined results of the past two World Championships. 

The men fell just outside of the top seven in eighth. As a result, the winning rink of the five competing in Fargo will be off to Fussen, Germany, from Dec. 11 to Dec. 15 to try to tackle the last needed step to punch their tickets to Sochi. 

While there are a lot of variables at play before the 10 men's teams are set for Sochi, the U.S. has a strong chance to earn their place for the Olympics.

Not only did the Americans miss an automatic qualification by just one spot, but the U.S. men also have not been left out of Olympic curling since the frozen event returned to the Olympics in 1998. 

On the women's side, as Greg Bates of reports, Team Erika Brown, Team Courtney George, Team Cassie Potter and Team Allison Pottinger will all be competing to win the honor of advancing to the Olympics.

Team Allison Pottinger has to be considered the favorite to advance.

VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 23:  (L-R) Nicole Joraanstad, Allison Pottinger, Natalie Nicholson and Debbie McCormick of the United States talk tactics during the women's curling round robin game between China and the United States on day 12 of the Vancouver 2
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Pottinger and two of her current teammates competed as the American representative in the last Olympics, and they also won the 2012 U.S. championship.

Still, their qualification will not be easy. 

Team Erika Brown is gunning for that spot and has the experience to pull it off. Brown will be joined by Debbie McCormick, Ann Swisshelm and Jessica Schultz, as the four women attempt to qualify. Each woman has ample high-level curling experience, and all have competed in the Olympics before.

RIGA, LATVIA - MARCH 24:  Erika Brown of USA screams instructions to team mates in the Bronze medal match between USA and Canada on Day 9 of the Titlis Glacier Mountain World Women's Curling Championship at the Volvo Sports Centre on March 24, 2013 in Rig
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

The men's side will consist of, again according to Bates, Team Brady Clark, Team Pete Fenson, Team Tyler George, Team Heath McCormick and Team John Shuster and competition should be fierce. 

Fenson skipped the U.S. to its only Olympic curling medal in 2006. Shuster was a part of Fenson's 2006 team but then skipped his own team in 2010 to the Vancouver Games. 

Team Shuster at 2009 US Trials
Team Shuster at 2009 US TrialsDoug Pensinger/Getty Images

Meanwhile, Team Brady Clark are the reigning U.S. champs, and Heath McCormick's team won that honor the previous year. 

All of that experience will serve whichever men's team that advances well as it moves onto Germany to try to lock in one of the last two curling spots.