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

Erika Brown
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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.”

Video: Trumpet player high dives after national anthem at USA Swimming meet

Kenenisa Bekele still eyes Eliud Kipchoge’s marathon world record, but a duel must wait

Kenenisa Bekele
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LONDON — Kenenisa Bekele made headlines last week by declaring “of course I am the best” long distance runner ever. But the Ethiopian was fifth-best at Sunday’s London Marathon, finishing 74 seconds behind Kenya’s Amos Kipruto.

Bekele, 40, clocked 2:05:53, the fastest-ever marathon by a runner 40 years or older. He was with the lead pack until being dropped in the 21st mile.

But Bekele estimated he could have run 90 to 120 seconds faster had he not missed parts of six weeks of training with hip and joint injuries.

“I expect better even if the preparation is short,” he said. “I know my talent and I know my capacity, but really I couldn’t achieve what I expect.”

Bekele is the second-fastest marathoner in history behind Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge, who broke his own world record by clocking 2:01:09 at the Berlin Marathon last week.

“I am happy when I see Eliud Kipchoge run that time,” Bekele said. “It motivates all athletes who really expect to do the same thing.”

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Bekele’s best time was within two seconds of Kipchoge’s previous world record (2:01:39). He described breaking Kipchoge’s new mark as the “main goal” for the rest of his career.

“Yes, I hope, one day it will happen, of course,” Bekele said. “With good preparation, I don’t know when, but we will see one more time.”

Nobody has won more London Marathons than Kipchoge, a four-time champion who set the course record (2:02:37) in 2019. But the two-time Olympic marathon champion did not run this year in London, as elite marathoners typically choose to enter one race each spring and fall.

Bekele does not know which race he will enter in the spring. But it will not be against Kipchoge.

“I need to show something first,” Bekele said. “I need to run a fast time. I have to check myself. This is not enough.”

Kipchoge will try to become the first runner to win three Olympic marathon titles at the Paris Games. Bekele, who will be 42 in 2024, has not committed to trying to qualify for the Ethiopian team.

“There’s a long time to go before Paris,” Bekele said. “At this moment I am not decided. I have to show something.”

So who is the greatest long distance runner ever?

Bekele can make a strong case on the track:

Bekele
Four Olympic medals (three gold)
Six World Championship medals (five gold)
Former 5000m and 10,000m world-record holder

Kipchoge
Two Olympic medals
Two World Championship medals (one gold)

But Kipchoge can make a strong case on the pavement:

Bekele
Second-fastest marathoner in history
Two World Marathon Major victories

Kipchoge
Four of the five best marathon times in history
Two-time Olympic marathon champion
12 World Marathon Major victories

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Yalemzerf Yehualaw, Amos Kipruto win London Marathon

Yalemzerf Yehualaw
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Ethiopian Yalemzerf Yehualaw became the youngest female runner to win the London Marathon, while Kenyan Amos Kipruto earned the biggest victory of his career in the men’s race.

Yehualaw, 23, clocked 2:17:26, prevailing by 41 seconds over 2021 London champ Joyciline Jepkosgei of Kenya.

Yehualaw tripped and fell over a speed bump around the 20-mile mark. She quickly rejoined the lead pack, then pulled away from Jepkosgei by running the 24th mile in a reported 4:43, which converts to 2:03:30 marathon pace; the women’s world record is 2:14:04.

Yehualaw and Jepkosgei were pre-race favorites after world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya withdrew Monday with a right hamstring injury.

On April 24, Yehualaw ran the fastest women’s debut marathon in history, a 2:17:23 to win in Hamburg, Germany.

She has joined the elite tier of female marathoners, a group led by Kenyan Peres Jepchirchir, the reigning Olympic, New York City and Boston champion. Another Ethiopian staked a claim last week when Tigist Assefa won Berlin in 2:15:37, shattering Yehualaw’s national record.

Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, finished Sunday’s race in 3:20:20 at age 65.

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Kipruto, 30, won the men’s race in 2:04:39. He broke free from the leading group in the 25th mile and crossed the finish line 33 seconds ahead of Ethiopian Leul Gebresilase, who said he had hamstring problems.

Kipruto, one of the pre-race favorites, had never won a major marathon but did finish second behind world record holder Eliud Kipchoge in Tokyo (2022) and Berlin (2018) and third at the world championships (2019) and Tokyo (2018).

Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest marathoner in history, was fifth after being dropped in the 21st mile. His 2:05:53 was the fastest-ever marathon by a runner 40 years or older. Bekele ran his personal best at the 2019 Berlin Marathon — 2:01:41 — and has not run within four minutes of that time since.

The major marathon season continues next Sunday with the Chicago Marathon, headlined by a women’s field that includes Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich and American Emily Sisson.

London returns next year to its traditional April place after being pushed to October the last three years due to the pandemic.

MORE: Bekele looks ahead to Kipchoge chase after London Marathon

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