After a successful first few months competing on the World Curling Tour, teams skipped by Heath McCormick and Jamie Sinclair have clinched spots to represent the U.S. on Team North America at the 2017 World Financial Group Continental Cup, presented by Boyd Gaming, in Las Vegas.
The U.S. teams enter the 2017 World Financial Group Continental Cup, which will take place Jan. 12-15 at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, with limited experience at this event. McCormick is the lone American team member who has competed in the event as he helped Team North America defeat Team World in Penticton, B.C., in 2013.
“I am very excited to welcome Team McCormick and Team Sinclair to the 2017 Continental Cup, Team North America,” said Debbie McCormick (Rio, Wis.), a four-time Olympian and captain for Team North America, who also competed in five Cups during her stellar curling career. “Both teams have had a very successful curling season competing in the United States and internationally to earn this prestigious experience. I am very confident these teams will continue their successes in Las Vegas and will make great additions to Team North America.”
Heath McCormick, a 40-year-old Sarnia, Ont., native now competing for the U.S., and his team of Olympian Chris Plys (Duluth, Minn.) and Youth Olympians Korey Dropkin (Duluth, Minn./Southborough, Mass.) and Tom Howell (Milwaukee, Wis./Solon, Ohio) took the early lead in the World Financial Group Continental Cup points chase to determine the two American teams that would compete in the event and held strong, winning two World Curling Tour (WCT) event titles (St. Paul Cashspiel and Huron ReproGraphics Oil Heritage Classic) and making the playoffs in several other WCT events.
McCormick won the U.S. men’s national championship title in 2012 and represented the U.S. at the World Men’s Championship in Basel, Switzerland, that year. He’s also a former runner-up at the Canadian Mixed Championship.
Sinclair, 24, and her team of Alex Carlson (St. Paul, Minn.), Vicky Persinger (Fairbanks, Alaska), and Monica Walker (St. Paul, Minn.) qualified for the playoffs at the DEKALB Superspiel over the weekend in Morris, Man., to clinch the team’s spot on Team North America after a tight race with Nina Roth’s fellow High Performance Program team. This was the fourth playoff appearance at a WCT event this season for Team Sinclair.
Sinclair, who was born in Alaska but raised in Canada, moved to Minnesota to train full time with her U.S. High Performance Program teammates two years ago. As a junior, she competed in the Canadian Junior Championships, Canada Winter Games (gold medallist), and she skipped the Carleton Ravens (Ottawa) to the 2014 CIS-Curling Canada Canadian University Championship women’s title in Regina.
This will be the first WFG Continental Cup appearance for Team Sinclair, who are currently ranked No. 24 on the World Curling Tour year-to-date Order of Merit (OOM) points standings. Team McCormick concluded the Cup points chase ranked No. 19.
“I’m really excited that some new faces will get a chance to experience the World Financial Group Continental Cup, and it shows the increasing depth of talent in the U.S.,” said Rick Lang, coach for Team North America. “Debbie and I are already working hard to make sure our team is ready because I know Team World will be hungrier than ever in just a few weeks in Las Vegas.”
The Sinclair and McCormick foursomes join Canada’s Chelsea Carey and Kevin Koe teams, who automatically qualified for the Cup by winning the 2016 Scotties Tournament of Hearts and Tim Hortons Brier, respectively. The other two Canadian teams to join Team North America will come out of the 2016 Home Hardware Canada Cup, presented by Meridian Manufacturing, which ends Dec. 4 in Brandon, Man. If Koe or Carey win, then the berth goes to the highest team on the Canadian Team Ranking System (CTRS) as of Dec. 4.