U.S. Olympic Curling Trials moves cities less than a month out

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USA Curling announced Monday morning that the U.S. Olympic Mixed Doubles Curling Trials has been moved from Irvine, California, to Eveleth, Minnesota.

The event begins in less than a month.

Citing “venue access combined with an overwhelming concern for the delta variant and the goal to mitigate the extent of travel required for the majority of participants,” the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee’s Covid mitigation planning teams advised USA Curling to move the competition.

It was slated to be held at Great Park Ice & Five Point Arena, where some of the country’s top pairs’ figure skating teams train and the host of this year’s “Curling Night in America,” which is currently airing Friday nights on NBCSN.

Most of the nation’s top curlers live and train in the Midwest, meaning the change of venues to Curl Mesabi Curling Club will alleviate the need to fly. The event, which was initially planned for February 2021 prior to the pandemic, will now be held Oct. 26-31.

“While bringing curling to new and excited markets across the country is our passion, safety must always remain our priority,” USA Curling CEO Jeff Plush said, according to the release. “Athletes have been training for four years to compete to become Team USA, and it is our obligation to ensure they can compete without added risk or worry by creating the safest conditions possible.”

The mixed doubles curling event is the first of five winter-sport U.S. Olympic Trials that will determine athletes who will compete at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. Trials for men’s and women’s curling, long track speed skating, short track speed skating and ski jumping/Nordic combined will continue through January.

Mixed doubles curling made its Olympic debut in 2018, when the brother-sister duo of Becca and Matt Hamilton placed sixth in the eight-team field. Ten countries will compete in Beijing.

The Hamiltons are once again contenders for the sole U.S. Olympic spot but face tough competition from 2016 World bronze medalists and 2020 U.S. champions Tabitha Peterson and Joe Polo, 2019 World bronze medalists and 2019 U.S. champs Cory Christensen and John Shuster, 2015 and 2018 U.S. champs Sarah Anderson and Korey Dropkin, and reigning national champions Vicky Persinger and Chris Plys.

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