Steve Seixeiro-World Curling Federation
The Mixed Doubles field at the Olympic Winter Games is complete.
Chris Plys and his teammate Vicky Persinger won a battle of nerves over their Russian opponents in Leeuwarden, Netherlands to grab the last mixed doubles berth at the Olympic Winter Games.
The victory at the Olympic Qualifying Event came two hours after Australia won their historic spot at Beijing 2022.
The qualifying battle against Russian veterans Anna Sidorova and Aleksei Timofeev first turned to the U.S. with a steal of two in the second end. Leading 3-0, Plys and Persinger then swapped singles with the Russians over the next three ends to lead 4-2 after five ends.
The fifth-end hold was critical as Sidorova and Timofeev applied their power play, but Plys made a brilliant long runback to squelch the end.
The Americans called their power play for the fifth but it was Russia’s chance to turn the screws. Two misses from Plys left Persinger facing three Russian counters in a reduced scoring area; her draw was slightly heavy but ground to a halt in time to count one.
Sidorova and Timofeev found their draw rhythm in the seventh frame, and Persinger missed her two throws, leaving the door wide open for a Russian three and a tied game.
It was not to be, as Sidorova came up light and Russia scored just two to trail 5-4 coming home.
In the final end, Sidorova’s last draw attempt ran tight and heavy, and the Americans didn’t need to throw their final stone.
Neither Persinger nor Plys celebrated at first, realizing the finale could have ended differently.
Persinger in the seventh • The Curling Channel/Recast
“(The Olympics) sounded pretty good after the seventh end,” said a wry Persinger. “That was not a good one for me.”
“It wasn’t the most entertaining game I’m sure,” said Plys, who will also compete in Beijing’s men’s four-player division with defending champion John Shuster. “We were playing a little bit conservative, but we made shots when we had to.
“It’s like I told (Vicky), everyone’s allowed to miss a couple. So as long as you don’t let them turn it into more and more misses, it is what it is.”
Plys has won three massive qualifying games in recent weeks—two U.S. Olympic Trials finals and the second OQE final–while Persinger has reduced the sting of losing the U.S. women’s four-player Trials final to Beijing-bound Tabitha Peterson.
Sidorova and Timofeev missed a chance to conquer recent disappointment. Both were dropped from Russian men’s and women’s team contention, and joined forces to try and qualify for Beijing in mixed doubles.
Out of 45 matches played at the mixed doubles event, there wasn’t a single blank end logged.
The men’s and women’s four-player OQE runs at the same venue from Dec 11 to 18.
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