SUZHOU, China — U.S. curlers are hoping to find success this week at the first-ever Curling World Cup, an event that will help meet demand for the sport and increase the talent pool.
“We’re excited about it’’ starting on Wednesday, USA Curling/Olympic Coach Phill Drobnick said in a telephone interview.
“We’re hoping this will develop even more athletes,’’ especially since it will be televised on the Olympic Channel. The Olympic Channel, in partnership with NBC and World Curling TV, will air 14 games live and it will also be streamed on the NBC sports app.
The World Curling Federation is putting a bunch of money into the Curling World Cup to allow more international competition for all countries, he added, instead of just one world championship each year. The purse for the event is $150,000.
Drobnick said the four-leg event this season will allow for more international television time, as well. The first leg of the event will run from Wednesday through Sunday. Since the 2018 Olympics, lots of curling outlets have been looking to put curling on TV.
That goes hand in hand with the popularity of the sport since the United States won Olympic gold. It’s growing all across the country, he said, and open houses in the Twin Cities are already booked for the upcoming season.
“It’s just booming,’’ Drobnick added.
The invitational tournament was created by the WCF based on world rankings, along with finishes in the Olympics and world championships.
The new format will include eight teams divided into two pools of four. One team from each pool will qualify for the finals and there will be one final match. The games will be eight ends in length and no extra ends will be played. If a game is tied after eight ends a draw-to-the-button will take place.
In addition to prize money, the winners also earn a coveted berth to the Curling World Cup Grand Final in May in Beijing where a bigger prize pool will be available.
The U.S. will be sending three teams to the international tournament:
* The Rich Ruohonen Rink of Brooklyn Park, Minn., will represent the men with a team also consisting of Greg Persinger of Fairbanks, Alaska; Kroy Nernberger of Madison, Wis., and Sean Beighton of Seattle. The team played 10 days ago in Ontario and went 5-1 and notched a semifinals appearance.
* The Nina Roth Rink (a 2018 Olympian) of McFarland, Wis., will represent the women with a team also including Tabitha Peterson of Eagan, Becca Hamilton of McFarland, Wis., and Aileen Geving of Duluth. The women’s team curled once this year at the Curling Night in America taping and Drobnick their first time on the ice “went really well.’’
* The mixed doubles team is made up of Sarah Anderson of Minneapolis and Korey Dropkin of Duluth.
* Drobnick will be coaching the men’s team and the mixed doubles team.
To view the full TV schedule, go to https://www.curlingworldcup.com/news/curling-world-cup-live-coverage-details-revealed.