Erika Brown

Erika Brown’s rink wins U.S. Olympic Curling Trials

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It’s been referred to as the all-star team of U.S. curling. Call it the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team, too.

Erika Brown‘s rink clinched a spot at the Sochi Olympics by sweeping a rink skipped by Allison Pottinger at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Fargo, N.D. Brown and Co. won 8-7 on Saturday night after a 7-5 victory Friday in the best-of-three championship series.

The game was tied at 7-7 after nine of 10 ends, but Brown’s rink held the hammer (last stone) in the final end, an advantage. Brown converted on the final throw to score the decisive point and screamed as the rock settled.

“I am still in a little bit of shock, but I’m so excited,” Brown said on NBCSN.

The Olympic Trials conclude with a winner-take-all men’s match between rinks skipped by Pete Fenson and John Shuster on Sunday at 3 p.m. Eastern time. NBCSN and NBC Live Extra will have coverage.

Brown, 40, has been to the Olympics before. So have all of her teammates who came together from different rinks two years ago.

Brown will go to her third Games in a 26-year span. She was the youngest member of the U.S. delegation at the 1988 Calgary Olympics, when curling was a demonstration sport. The former Wisconsin high school state champion golfer also played on the first official U.S. Olympic Team in 1998 in Nagano, Japan.

Brown’s vice skip is Debbie McCormick, 39, who was the skip of the 2010 U.S. Olympic Team that finished in last place in Vancouver. The curling supplies distributor also played on the 1998 and 2002 Olympic Teams.

Second Jessica Schultz, the youngest member of the rink at 28, played on the 2006 U.S. Olympic Team.

Lead Ann Swisshelm, 45, will almost surely be the oldest woman out of the entire U.S. athlete delegation in Sochi. She played on the 2002 Olympic Team with McCormick.

source:  Every member of Brown’s rink wears a number on the back of her shirt corresponding to an element on the periodic table. They usually have the symbol for each element on their sleeves, but those were replaced by U.S. Olympic patches this week.

What are their Olympic medal chances?

Brown’s rink came into the Olympic Trials as the reigning national champion. It lost in the bronze-medal match at the World Championships in March. The U.S. is ranked No. 7 in the world.

The Olympic field will include 10 nations, including rinks representing reigning world medalists Great Britain (Scotland), Sweden and Canada. No U.S. women’s rink has won an Olympic medal.

“We really held it in there today with all the nerves and all the craziness,” McCormick said. “I’m ready to go to Sochi and kick some butt.”

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Yevgenia Medvedeva breaks record in Grand Prix Final short program

MISSISSAUGA, ON - OCTOBER 28: Evgenia Medvedeva of Russia competes in the Women's Singles Short Program during day one of the 2016 Skate Canada International at Hershey Centre on October 28, 2016 in Mississauga, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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Russian Yevgenia Medvedeva broke the record for highest women’s short program score at the Grand Prix Final on Friday.

Medvedeva, who hasn’t lost in more than one year, totaled 79.21 points in Marseille, France. That beat Mao Asada‘s 78.66 from the 2014 World Championships, the previous record under a decade-old judging system.

“I knew approximately about the record,” Medvedeva said through a translator. “For me, it’s one step further.”

Medvedeva leads Canadian Kaetlyn Osmond by 3.67 points going into Saturday’s free skate. No U.S. woman qualified for the six-skater Grand Prix Final for the first time since 2008.

Medvedeva, 17, hopes to repeat as champion at the Grand Prix Final, the second-biggest annual figure skating event.

She already holds the free skate world record and can break Yuna Kim‘s record for total score with a solid effort Saturday in Marseille. Medvedeva said she can perform better than she did Friday, specifically with her program interpretation and spins.

“I always strive for perfection,” she said through a translator. “When you stop doing that, you will stop progress.”

The Grand Prix Final concludes with the women’s and men’s free skates and free dance Saturday (schedule here). NBCSN will air coverage Sunday from 8:30-11 p.m. ET.

Earlier Friday, Russians Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov held onto their short-program lead to win the pairs event by 7.14 points over China’s Yu Xiaoyu and Zhang Hao.

Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, the two-time world champions and pre-event favorites, struggled in the short program and free skate and lost for just the second time in the last three seasons.

In the short dance, Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir recorded the highest score of all time, an 80.50, to take a 2.53-point lead into Saturday’s free dance.

That Virtue and Moir lead is no surprise — they were the top couple in the fall Grand Prix season — but their closest challenger is a surprise.

It is not two-time world champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France, but instead Americans Maia and Alex Shibutani, who totaled a personal-best short dance.

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Women’s Short Program
1. Yevgenia Medvedeva (RUS) — 79.21
2. Kaetlyn Osmond (CAN) — 75.54
3. Satoko Miyahara (JPN) — 74.64
4. Anna Pogorilaya (RUS) — 73.29
5. Yelena Radionova (RUS) — 68.98
6. Maria Sotskova (RUS) — 65.74

Short Dance
1. Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir (CAN) — 80.50
2. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) — 77.97
3. Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron (FRA) — 77.86
4. Yekaterina Bobrova/Dmitry Soloviyev (RUS) — 74.04
5. Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue (USA) — 72.47
6. Madison Chock/Evan Bates (USA) — 70.87

Pairs Results
GOLD: Yevgenia Tarasovana/Vladimir Morozov (RUS) — 213.85
SILVER: Yu Xiaoyu/Zhang Hao (CHN) — 206.71
BRONZE: Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford (CAN) — 205.99
4. Natalya Zabiyako/Aleksander Enbert (RUS) — 188.32
5. Julianne Seguin/Charlie Bilodeau (CAN) — 186.85
6. Cheng Peng/Yang Jin (CHN) — 183.19

Gracie Gold’s outlook for U.S. Championships clouded after more struggles

Gracie Gold
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Gracie Gold struggled in all four of her competitions this fall, capped by her lowest total score in four years at a Croatian event this week, putting her under scrutiny for the U.S. Championships in six weeks.

She singled three jumps and fell twice across two programs at Golden Spin in Zagreb, Croatia, on Thursday and Friday.

Gold totaled 159.02 points for sixth place, her first time below 160 points since 2012 Skate Canada in her first season as a senior skater.

Italian Carolina Kostner, the 2014 Olympic bronze medalist, won with 196.23 points in her first full competition since the 2014 World Championships.

GOLD’S SKATES: Short Program | Free Skate

Earlier this fall, Gold finished last of six skaters in the free skate-only Japan Open on Oct. 1, fifth at Skate America in October and eighth at Trophée de France in November.

Gold has spoken openly about trying to mentally and physically recover from last season’s world championships, where she dropped from first after the short program to finish fourth, and taking weeks off from training in the summer offseason.

Even with the rough skates, Gold still ranks fourth among U.S. women in top scores this season, behind Ashley WagnerMariah Bell and Mirai Nagasu.

She could struggle — to a degree — at the U.S. Championships in January and still make the three-woman world championships team. Gold has finished first or second at all four of her senior nationals appearances.

MORE: Figure skating season broadcast schedule

Top U.S. women’s skaters in 2016-17
1. Ashley Wagner — 196.44 (Skate America)
2. Mariah Bell — 191.59 (Skate America)
3. Mirai Nagasu — 189.11 (Autumn Classic)
4. Gracie Gold — 184.22 (Skate America)
5. Amber Glenn — 183.60 (Golden Spin)
6. Courtney Hicks — 182.98 (Rostelecom Cup)