Pete Fenson’s rink forces deciding game at U.S. Olympic Curling Trials
Pete Fenson‘s not done yet in Fargo.
The 2006 Olympic bronze medalist skip and his rink stayed alive at the U.S. Olympic Curling Trials with a 5-4 win (in an extra end) over John Shuster‘s rink on Saturday. They’re tied 1-1 in a best-of-three championship series.
The deciding game will be Sunday at noon ET (or 3 p.m. if there is no women’s match) on NBCSN and NBC Live Extra.
On Saturday, Fenson’s rink gave up its 4-3 lead in the 10th and final regulation end, but that allowed it to take the hammer (last shot) in the 11th end, which is a major advantage. Fenson converted on his final throw to earn the winner.
“We had a game plan,” Fenson, a pizza maker who chewed gum while playing, said on NBCSN. “We stuck to the game plan. That last half of the game we wanted to try and force and get the hammer. It came down to 10, and we forced them and had the hammer. ... We played pretty tight to the vest and got things to go the way we wanted them to go.”
On Friday, Shuster won the first game 9-8 in an extra end after squandering an 8-3 lead after seven ends. Shuster said he’s learned from the first two games.
“When opportunities present themselves, take advantage of them,” Shuster said. “Try not to give them in turn too many of those opportunities.”
The men’s winner in Fargo is not guaranteed an Olympic berth.
The next step for Sunday’s winner is what’s called the Olympic Qualification Event from Dec. 10-15 in Füssen, Germany, because the U.S. did not qualify for Sochi via results at last two World Championships.
The top two from the Olympic Qualification Event will earn the final spots at the Olympics.
The U.S. is favored to take one of those two spots given it’s the highest-ranked nation in the Olympic Qualification Event field (eighth overall) and has qualified into every Olympic curling tournament since the sport returned to the Games in 1998.
Fenson, 45, skipped the U.S. rink that won bronze at the 2006 Olympics. Shuster was on that rink and then led his own rink to the 2010 Olympics, where he was briefly benched after a poor start.