What happened in the previous two weeks:
- The USA national team won the gold medal in the 10th annual U.S. Open International Wheelchair Curling Bonspiel held Dec. 4-6 at the Utica (N.Y.) Curling Club, defeating Korea in the championship game, 11-1. The core U.S. team members were Steve Emt, Patrick McDonald, Jimmy Joseph and Penny Greely. Other U.S. national team players who rotated in during the event included Justin Marshall, Matt Thums, Corey Fairbanks and Megan Lino, as the national coaches were trying to give all of them extra playing time in advance if the early January determination of USA’s team for the 2016 World Wheelchair Curling Championships.
- The USA Curling Mixed Doubles National Championship concluded on Monday at the Denver Curling Club, with the local organizing committee led by co-chairs Phil Moir and Alyssa Schear doing a great job in hosting the event. Olympians Jessica Schultz and Jason Smith won the championship, and Allison and Doug Pottinger finished second. Both teams have qualified for the World Team Trials for mixed doubles, as did the team of Kroy Nernberger and Nina Roth. The 8-team Trials will be held Feb. 25-28 at the U.S. Olympic Training Site for curling in Blaine, Minn. Three more teams will advance to the Trials from another 8-team competition consisting of High Performance Program athletes, to be held during an HPP training camp Jan. 29-30 in Blaine. The 2014 National Champion team of Sarah Anderson and Korey Dropkin is also qualified, and the eighth Trials team will be a discretionary pick by a committee consisting of an athlete, coach, HPP Director and me as CEO.
- Denver Broncos tight end Vernon Davis (twice our Honorary Team Captain at the Olympics) stopped by the Mixed Doubles Championships during Friday evening’s competition.
- Close to 5,000 all-event passes have been sold to date for the 2016 WFG Continental Cup of Curling in Las Vegas, and expected attendance over the four days is now approaching 60,000. Among the USCA fundraising efforts tied to this event is the Boyd Gaming Hit & Stay contest. The entry deadline for this contest is today, at 4 p.m. PST.
- The first meeting of the USOC NGB Tier Working Group I was invited to serve on was held on Wednesday. The USOC proposal is for five tiers of NGB classification related to performance in the field of play as well as on the business side. Each tier comes with different resource allocation levels, multi-year (or less) funding commitments, and access to other professional development and athlete support services.
- During our weekly call with the local organizing committee for the USA Curling Nationals in Jacksonville, we discussed adjusting the timing of the men’s and women’s finals to later in the day to potentially attract more fans. We are currently getting input from the AAC, coaches, ice techs, officials, and competitive programs committee before making a final decision.
- As of the close of the regular registration for the women’s National Championships on Wednesday, only eight teams had signed up, meaning there may not be the need for a Challenge Round in January. Late registration closes today at 11:59 p.m. CST. There were several years in the early 2000s when there were less than 10 women’s teams competing, and as few as six. The numbers increased when we moved to the arena setting in 2009, and have been averaging just over 13 teams ever since (not including a high of 27 in 2009-10, when the championships were combined with the 2010 U.S. Olympic Team Trials). I am planning to survey previous competitors who did not register this year for insights in to what has caused them not to return. Also noteworthy is that participation in the women’s USCA Club Nationals has continued to rise, increasing by 8 teams from the 2014 to 2015 championships, where 25 teams competed.
- The Curling Night in America competition featuring USA against China, Japan and Scotland concluded on Saturday, with the outcome of the men’s, women’s and overall nation’s winner hanging in the balance until the final rocks of the competition. The first of nine 2-hour programs coming out of this event will air on NBSCN Jan. 8, 2016. World Curling Federation (WCF) Directors Andy Anderson (USA) and Graham Prouse (Canada) were in attendance, giving us an opportunity to discuss WCF support of this event again in 2016 and beyond.
- Over $5,000 in donations have been received in the past month, coming from a variety of sources from new to sustaining donors, annual givers, and those adding a donation during event registration.
- Longtime sponsor AtomOS had technician Brad Caudill at the USCA National Office on Thursday for a regular checkup and updates to our computer network and other IT concerns.
- Kim Nawyn participated in the quarterly Membership conference call for national governing bodies held by the Association for Chief Executives in Sport. She is currently following up with USA Lacrosse about several of their best practices.
- Cities have been selected for the 2016 and 2017 Members’ Assemblies and a Business of Curling Symposium in 2016. Host hotel and other details are currently in the process of being finalized. Watch for more information in the coming weeks.
- Officiating, instructor, and wheelchair instructor courses are on the calendar for the coming weeks.
- Christy Hering sent the 2015 Dues & Rosters Packets to all member clubs last week. The deadline for reporting membership and paying dues is Jan. 31, 2016.
- The USCA men’s HPP “Red” team (skipped by John Shuster) is playing in the Meridian Canadian Open Grand Slam this week in Yorkton, Saskatchewan.
- The USCA women’s HPP “White” team (led by Jamie Sinclair) will be competing in the invitational Yichun International Open in Beijing, Dec. 14-18. The organizing committee pays for all of the travel, accommodations and meals for competing teams.
- Legendary curling historian David B. Smith – known as The Sheriff – passed away last week.
- An update to the USCA moratorium on sweeping equipment was issued on Nov. 30 and circulated directly to all of those involved with the Mixed Doubles National Championship, as well as being communicated throughout the curling community. This moratorium was also enacted at the Curling Night in America competition, and it is expected to be in place at the 2016 Continental Cup in Las Vegas.
- Two teleconferences were held Dec. 3 for NGB administrators and also parents of athletes participating in the 2016 Youth Olympic Winter Games.
What’s up next week:
- USCA Operations Group meeting by teleconference, Tuesday.
- The first teams to qualify for the USA Curling Nationals in Jacksonville will be determined following the Curl Mesabi Cashspiel, ending Dec. 20th. The top two USA men’s and women’s teams on the year-to-date Order of Merit ranking qualify directly to the Nationals.
What’s coming two weeks from now (Dec. 20-26)
- Christmas! The USCA National Office will be closed on Friday, Dec. 25th.