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Shuster closing in on Playoffs at US Olympic Trials

(OMAHA, Nebraska) -- John Shuster’s team is closing in on a spot in the finals after earning a fifth win today at the 2018 US Olympic Team Trials for Curling.

Shuster (Superior, Wis.) and his team of Tyler George (Duluth, Minn.), Matt Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.), and John Landsteiner (Duluth, Minn.) defeated Heath McCormick, 6-5, to improve to 5-1 with two games remaining in the double round robin at Baxter Arena.

McCormick and teammates Chris Plys (Duluth, Minn.), Korey Dropkin (Duluth, Minn.), and Tom Howell (Milwaukee, Wis.) are now 4-2 with remaining games against the Brady Clark (1-5) and Todd Birr (3-2) rinks. Birr’s team defeated Clark, 9-8, to stay in the playoff hunt.

“This win is huge – definitely,” said John Benton, vice skip for Team Birr. “It looks like things are shaping up to come down to the last couple of draws. Just to be hanging in there is good. We’re coming into our game and we’re optimistic.”

In the lone women’s game, Jamie Sinclair’s team picked up a 9-3 victory over Cory Christensen’s rink to even their record to 2-2.

“We’ve been shooting really well all week and those two losses probably hurt a bit more because we knew that we were playing well and were trying to figure out what more we could do. So, finally in this game things worked out in our favor,” Sinclair said. “The team’s been playing really well all week so we just kept telling ourselves that it was just a matter of time when things would turn our way.”

Sinclair and teammates Alex Carlson (St. Paul, Minn.), Vicky Persinger (Fairbanks, Alaska), and Monica Walker (St. Paul, Minn.) started strong with a deuce in the opening end and added a point when Christensen missed her final shot of the second end. After holding Christensen (Duluth, Minn.) and teammates Sarah Anderson (Minneapolis, Minn.), Taylor Anderson (Minneapolis, Minn.), and Jenna Martin (Wauwatosa, Wis.) to a single in the third end, Sinclair scored two more to widen the gap. They continued their solid shooting to score four points and put the game away in the sixth.

Sinclair (2-2) will meet Nina Roth’s rink (3-1) in tonight’s draw. A link to the live webstream of the round robin can be found at www.NBCSports.com. The playoffs will be live and on tape delay starting Thursday on NBCSN. Game scores will be posted online after each draw at www.usacurl.org. Standings and stats also will be available.

Draw 8 scores: Birr 9, Clark 8; Sinclair 9, Christensen 3; Shuster 6, McCormick 5

The round robin continues through Wednesday night. If needed, tiebreakers will take place on Thursday morning. The playoffs, a best two-out-of-three series, will begin on Friday and continue through Saturday night, if needed.

USA Curling is hosting the event with Baxter Arena and the Omaha Sports Commission, in partnership with the Aksarben Curling Club and the United States Olympic Committee. The men’s and women’s teams that win the Trials will be named to the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team, pending approval by the United States Olympic Committee.

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