U.S. Olympic Team Curling Trials Day 5: Shuster clinches No. 1, Sinclair loses in extra

U.S. Olympic Team Curling Trials Day 5: Shuster clinches No. 1, Sinclair loses in extra
Posted at 7:46 AM, Nov 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-17 00:21:36-05

The U.S. Olympic Team Curling Trials continued Tuesday at Baxter Arena in Omaha, Nebraska, with a pair of women's draws on the day, along with one men's draw.

There were three featured matchups for Day 5. For the men, Team Persinger took on Team Dropkin while, on the women's side, Team Peterson squared off against Team Rhyme and Team Sinclair faced Team Strouse.

Below is a roundup of Tuesday's featured matchups along with on-demand replays.

SEE MORE: How to watch the U.S. Olympic Team Curling Trials

Team Peterson vs. Team Rhyme

Tabitha Peterson and company entered the morning draw with a sterling 4-1 record, and they kept up their strong play against Team Rhyme to chalk up another tally in the win column.

Team Peterson took an early 2-0 lead after the first end and never wound up relinquishing it. Team Rhyme managed just one point beyond the game's midway point, allowing Team Peterson to pad the lead going into the final end, where Kimberly Rhyme's group conceded.

Peterson's squad took this tilt by a score of 7-3 to improve to 5-1 at the Trials.

Elsewhere in the morning draw, Team Sinclair earned a much-needed victory over Team Christensen, and it wasn't much of a contest. Both teams had two points apiece after the fourth end, but Jamie Sinclair and company exploded for eight points in the following four ends. Team Christensen conceded in the ninth end.

"It was a slow start to the week, started off with two losses, but we got our feet under us, we got comfortable with the ice and we started making some shots," Sinclair said after the game. "[We're just] taking it one game at a time. We're focusing on ourselves and just trying to get better with every game. And then, hopefully, in the long run that turns into wins and playing in the finals."

Team Bear and Team Strouse also squared off in the morning session, though at this stage neither team is likely to advance into the knockout round. Team Bear took the 7-2 victory over Team Strouse, keeping Team Strouse at just one win at the Trials. This win was just the second Team Bear victory in Omaha.

SEE MORE: U.S. Olympic Curling Trials: Women's Draw 6

Team Persinger vs. Team Dropkin

Team Persinger sought become a clear No. 2 while Team Dropkin pursued a winning record in a matchup featuring two contenders likely to be in the mix to challenge juggernaut Team Shuster in the final.

In the first end, Team Persinger second Ben Richardson produced a great carve on third Alex Leichter's shot for curl before Team Dropkin third Joe Polo missed a double peel by millimeters, but Korey Dropkin was able to clear out opposing rocks and throw a draw to score one. Both teams' thirds made consecutive mistakes due to weigh miscalculations in the next frame, of which Dropkin took best advantage to cluster and guard before a Persinger draw miss, stealing a triple to go up 4-0.

It didn't look good for Team Persinger in the third after Team Dropkin piled on stones early, but a Dropkin overcurl opened up a big-time draw finish from Persinger for one to keep his team alive. In the fourth, Polo executed a perfect peel to open things up, and after a botched freeze attempt by Persinger, Dropkin elected to forgo a bump for three by nailing a deuce draw to extend the lead to five.

Polo contributed two more excellent peels in the fifth and Dropkin added another himself, then Persinger faced with a tough triple attempt for two converted but only for one. Dropkin sealed the win in the sixth, curling his stone around a guard with help from brushers to clear underneath before a Persinger miss. Team Dropkin was awarded the two imminent points upon a Persinger concession, winning 8-2.

Team Dropkin moved into a tie with Team Persinger for second-best team at 4-3. Their Monday opponents are opposites: Dropkin plays winless Brundidge while Persinger takes on unbeaten Shuster.

"It's a long week," said Dropkin after the game. "It's hard to go through this smooth sailing. We had a tough day [Monday] but every now and then you're gonna have a tough day on the job, so really what you gotta do is go back out there, flush that one down and get hot again. So we're feeling good now. We're gonna rest up again the rest of the day and two big games [Wednesday] to win."

On other sheets: Team Shuster stole three in the sixth end for a five-point lead against Team Ruohonen and sealed it in the ninth with a draw against four to win 9-5, improving to 7-0 and virtually assuring the No. 1 seed. Team Ruohonen fell to 3-4. Team Dunnam defeated Team Brundidge 10-5 in nine ends — Dunnam moved to 3-4 while Brundidge remained winless at 0-7.

John Shuster, the reigning Olympic champion, has skipped four national titles (2015, 2017, 2019, 2020), making this year a potential fifth and third straight if he and his team prove to be victorious. The last non-Shuster team to win was skipped by Greg Persinger – with Rich Ruohonen onboard as his third – in 2018. Both of course are skips on teams playing against Shuster in Omaha.

SEE MORE: U.S. Olympic Curling Trials: Men's Draw 7

Team Sinclair vs. Team Strouse

Among the favorites coming into Omaha, Team Sinclair dropped three of its first four but clawed its way back to 3-3 prior to Tuesday night’s game vs. 1-5 Team Strouse, a seemingly must-win.

Team Strouse doubled and blanked in the first end, then drew for two in the second to go up 2-0. In the third, Delaney Strouse left a double and Jamie Sinclair barely curled around a guard for three to go up 3-2. After multiple uncharacteristic misses from both teams throughout the fourth, Strouse drew again for two to regain the lead 4-3.

Team Sinclair third Monica Walker buried her second throw of the fifth end to lie two, but Sinclair later knocked it out of second-shot, scoring just one to close and tie things back up. That returned the hammer to Strouse and effectively reset the game. In the sixth, Sinclair's last shot, a draw, missed deep, enabling Strouse to convert her third hammer for two of the game and go up 6-4.

The seventh featured a collection of great shots on both sides, closing with Sinclair hitting to leave two and again even the score at 6-6. Strouse countered with a near perfect first throw in the eighth end to set up a potential triple, though she'd ultimately yield a single – Sinclair removed one, and a last-shot draw for two came up short via measurement.

Sinclair delivered quiet hack weight hits on both her throws in the ninth, with brilliant precision on the latter to go ahead 8-7. Strouse then tied it up with a single in the 10th to send it to an extra end. In that additional frame, Strouse curled and buried her last stone, forcing Sinclair to play an in-turn that clipped a high center guard. Team Strouse won 9-8, earning its second victory of the tournament.

Team Sinclair dropped to 3-4 and was set to take on 6-1 Team Peterson. Team Strouse, now 2-5, was scheduled to play Team Rhyme next.

On other sheets: Teams Christensen and Peterson faced off in a battle of the top two teams thus far. Peterson put up five in the first three ends, Christensen then answered with three in the fourth, and after two blanks Peterson added two more points before the teams traded singles. Peterson won 9-4 in nine ends. Team Bear also got a crucial 8-7 win against Team Rhyme, evening their records at 3-4 each.

SEE MORE: U.S. Olympic Curling Trials: Women's Draw 7

Wednesday's featured matchups (ET):

View the full Trials schedule here, and check the latest standings and results here.