Americans Plys and Persinger create Olympic curling ground for students

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American Chris Plys will have two chances to win a curling medal at the Beijing Olympics.

The only member of the 2022 U.S. men’s squad not part of the gold-medal quartet in Pyeongchang, Plys also qualified for the mixed doubles with Vicky Persinger on Thursday.

The Americans beat Russia 6-4 in a last-ditch qualifying event in the Netherlands. Earlier Thursday, Australia beat South Korea 6-5 to claim the other Olympic spot that was yet to be won.

Plys had already qualified for his second trip to the Winter Games with reigning Olympic champions John Shuster, Matt Hamilton and John Landsteiner. Persinger will participate in his first Olympic Games; she finished second twice in the US trials.

Plys and Persinger will open the Olympics on February 2, two days before the opening ceremony. The mixed doubles medal round will take place on February 8, a day before Plys returns to the ice with the US men’s team.

In the Netherlands, the Americans took a 5-2 lead in the penultimate end, the seventh. Persinger had a chance to knock two Russian stones out of the goal area but hit a keeper instead, giving Anna Sidorova a chance to draw for three points and the tie.

But Sidorova missed the shot, scoring just two. In the final end, the Russians missed their last throw, leaving an American stone on target, and the teams banged their fists without the Americans even needing to throw their last stone.

“That seventh end wasn’t the right one for me,” said Persinger. “So we just tried to put him aside and play the best eighth we can. We did some shots, and now it feels good.

Tahli Gill and Dean Hewitt are the first Australian curlers to qualify for the Olympics. They are coached by Canada’s John Morris, who won a men’s gold in 2010 and a mixed in 2018.

“The beauty of the Olympics is that there is sport for everyone,” said Matt Carroll, CEO of the Australian Olympic Committee. “And now we will see young Australians on the world stage in February in a sport that many Australians will be watching for the first time.”

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More AP Winter Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/winter-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports



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