Shawn Rojeski, Joe Polo

Pete Fenson’s rink forces deciding game at U.S. Olympic Curling Trials

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Pete Fenson‘s not done yet in Fargo.

The 2006 Olympic bronze medalist skip and his rink stayed alive at the U.S. Olympic Curling Trials with a 5-4 win (in an extra end) over John Shuster‘s rink on Saturday. They’re tied 1-1 in a best-of-three championship series.

The deciding game will be Sunday at noon ET (or 3 p.m. if there is no women’s match) on NBCSN and NBC Live Extra.

On Saturday, Fenson’s rink gave up its 4-3 lead in the 10th and final regulation end, but that allowed it to take the hammer (last shot) in the 11th end, which is a major advantage. Fenson converted on his final throw to earn the winner.

“We had a game plan,” Fenson, a pizza maker who chewed gum while playing, said on NBCSN. “We stuck to the game plan. That last half of the game we wanted to try and force and get the hammer. It came down to 10, and we forced them and had the hammer. … We played pretty tight to the vest and got things to go the way we wanted them to go.”

On Friday, Shuster won the first game 9-8 in an extra end after squandering an 8-3 lead after seven ends. Shuster said he’s learned from the first two games.

“When opportunities present themselves, take advantage of them,” Shuster said. “Try not to give them in turn too many of those opportunities.”

The men’s winner in Fargo is not guaranteed an Olympic berth.

The next step for Sunday’s winner is what’s called the Olympic Qualification Event from Dec. 10-15 in Füssen, Germany, because the U.S. did not qualify for Sochi via results at last two World Championships.

The top two from the Olympic Qualification Event will earn the final spots at the Olympics.

The U.S. is favored to take one of those two spots given it’s the highest-ranked nation in the Olympic Qualification Event field (eighth overall) and has qualified into every Olympic curling tournament since the sport returned to the Games in 1998.

Fenson, 45, skipped the U.S. rink that won bronze at the 2006 Olympics. Shuster was on that rink and then led his own rink to the 2010 Olympics, where he was briefly benched after a poor start.

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Swimmer Reece Whitley named Sports Illustrated’s Sportskid of the Year 2015

Reece Whitley
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Swimmer Reece Whitley, who earned two silver medals at the World Junior Championships earlier this summer, was named Sports Illustrated Kids’ Sportskid of the Year for 2015.

Whitley, a breaststroker, stands 6’8” at age 15 and is a sophomore at William Penn Charter School in Philadelphia. His 100m breaststroke time is 17th in the country, and his 200m time is 10th. He is the youngest swimmer to be ranked that high in both events.

“Making an impact on a young swimmer at a meet is probably more important than the times that you swim,” Whitley told SI Kids. “All these records are meant to be broken, but if you change a kid’s life or if you put a smile on a kid’s face because you took a picture with them, that never dies.”

“Getting to know Reece a little bit, he’s incredible,” 18-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps commented. “The guy is very talented, he’s super relaxed, super outgoing. He’s seeing results, he’s having fun, he’s enjoying himself. He’s a stud.”

Phelps has been known to call out “studs” in the past who do well in Olympic years. After the 2011 World Championships, Phelps told Jimmy Fallon that Missy Franklin was a stud, too. Then, at the 2012 Olympics, Franklin picked up four gold medals and a bronze.

Whitley beat out other four finalists for the title: taekwondo athlete Natalie Hershberger, 11; speedskater Cooper McLeod, 14; rock climber Ashima Shiraishi, 14; and cross country/ track and field athlete Harper Russell, 15.

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Olympic skater Nancy Kerrigan remembers slain Colorado officer, a childhood friend

Nancy Kerrigan
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Former figure skating champion Nancy Kerrigan remembers the Colorado police officer who was killed in a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic as loyal, caring and a true friend.

She told media outlets that Garrett Swasey was “one of my best friends” as they grew up together practicing figure skating in Melrose, Massachusetts. Before he became a police officer, Swasey was a junior national couples ice dancing champion.

An emotional Kerrigan says she wasn’t surprised he took a career path where he helped others first. She says he always had fun and did everything with a smile.

Swasey’s father has told the Boston Globe that his son moved to Colorado in the 1980s to pursue competitive figure skating and became an officer six years ago.

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