U.S. Olympic Curling Trials finals matchups set

Tabitha Peterson
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The U.S. Olympic Curling Trials men’s and women’s finals series pit matching storylines: established Olympians against younger teams starting Friday in Omaha.

John Shuster, who led the U.S. to its first Olympic curling title in 2018, skips a veteran quartet against a team mostly of twentysomethings led by Korey Dropkin, with three of the four men seeking their first Olympic berths.

In the women’s final, the bulk of the 2018 Olympic team, skipped by Tabitha Peterson, topped round-robin standings. Peterson, who in May won the U.S.’ first women’s world championship medal in 15 years (a bronze), faces a team of twentysomethings skipped by Cory Christensen.

The best-of-three finals series run Friday, Saturday and (if necessary) Sunday, live on NBCSN, NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app. A broadcast schedule is here.

Shuster and Peterson, the pre-event favorites, have dominated, going a combined 17-1 and clinching finals berths Wednesday. Dropkin and Christensen, each with three losses, secured the last finals spots on Thursday.

Shuster, 39, is joined by his 2018 Olympic gold-medal teammates Matt Hamilton and John Landsteiner. The team’s newest member, Chris Plys, replaced Tyler George after George retired from competition following the PyeongChang Winter Games.

Shuster is bidding to become the first person to compete in five Olympic curling tournaments as a medal sport, according to Olympedia.org. Plys’ qualification would be notable, too. His lone Olympic appearance came back in 2010, when he went to Vancouver as an alternate and replaced a struggling Shuster at skip mid-tournament.

In 2018, Peterson was part of a U.S. Olympic women’s team skipped by Nina Roth that finished eighth in PyeongChang. Peterson then took over as skip while Roth was on maternity leave. Roth returned, but Peterson remained skip, winning the 2020 national title and then leading the drought-ending medal team at worlds.

PyeongChang Olympian Becca Hamilton (Matt’s younger sister) and Tara Peterson (Tabitha’s younger sister) round out the team.

Dropkin and Christensen, both 26, would be the youngest U.S. skips to qualify for the Olympics since 2006.

Dropkin may be an underdog, but his team has momentum after handing Shuster his only defeat in Omaha on Wednesday night. It marked Dropkin’s second win in seven games against Shuster (not counting mixed doubles), according to Curlingzone.com.

Christensen has been to an Olympics, joining Peterson’s team as its alternate in 2018 after finishing third out of three teams at Olympic Trials. Christensen is 0-3 against Peterson as skips (mixed doubles excluded), according to Curlingzone, including two defeats in round-robin play in Omaha by a combined 18-9.

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