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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Laurie Hernandez eyes return to competition in 2018

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NEW YORK – Laurie Hernandez hardly considers her 14 months away from competitive gymnastics a break.

Since earning Olympic team gold and balance beam silver in Rio, the 17-year-old won “Dancing with the Stars,” authored a book and even enrolled in ballet lessons.

But her most rewarding experience has been speaking at schools. Students have asked her seemingly every question, from when she started taking gymnastics classes (age 5) to whether she climbed trees when she was younger (yes, all the time).

Seeing how many children were inspired by her Rio performance motivated Hernandez as she prepares to return to the sport.

“I didn’t realize at the Olympics how many people were truly watching,” Hernandez said Wednesday night at the annual Women’s Sports Foundation Salute to Women in Sports. “Now I’m excited to get back into the gym.”

Hernandez recently added handstand holds, back tucks and front flips to her conditioning program, in addition to continuing to run and lift weights.

“It’s a little difficult, but it’s fine,” she said. “I’ll push it a little more after the holidays.”

She has her eye on returning to competition in 2018.

“That’s definitely the hope,” Hernandez said. “I’m not going to rush anything, but I would love to compete in 2018.”

Hernandez, who said her next goal in gymnastics is to compete at the world championships for the first time and hopefully the 2020 Olympics, has not yet identified her comeback meet.

She noted that Aly Raisman took more than two years off after the London Olympics.

“I know every athlete is different,” Hernandez said. “But I wouldn’t mind following in her footsteps.”

Simone Biles, who has not competed since winning four gold medals in Rio, recently announced that she plans on returning to full-time training Nov. 1 and competition next summer.

“I look up to her, even though we are teammates,” Hernandez said. “I can’t wait to see her out there, but hopefully I’ll be out there with her soon.”

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Olympic cycling champion running for Congress

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Olympic cycling gold medalist Marty Nothstein is the latest to announce he’s running for the eastern Pennsylvania congressional seat being vacated by fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Charles Dent.

Dent, a former state senator, is a centrist Republican who has held the seat since 2005. He’s retiring after his term expires next year.

Nothstein, who won sprint silver in 1996 and gold in 2000, is the only American track cyclist to win an Olympic title at a fully attended Games.

Two Republican state representatives, Ryan Mackenzie and Justin Simmons, previously announced they’re running for Dent’s 15th District seat.

Democrat Bill Leiner, a former Lehigh County commissioner, is also running.

Dent’s district includes Allentown and all of Lehigh County, and parts of four surrounding counties.

Republicans in 2011 stretched the district almost 90 miles to the Susquehanna River in central Pennsylvania to make it more Republican.

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