The battle to become Team USA begins Sunday when teams hit the ice at the 2019 USA Curling Junior National Championships in Two Harbors, Minnesota.
The 2019 Junior Nationals will kick off with team practices on Sunday followed by the opening ceremony at 8 p.m. The round robin will begin Monday at 8 a.m.
A handful of local curlers are among the 16 teams – eight men’s and eight women’s – that will be competing for the title of Junior National Champion.
Area curlers that will be competing include Portage’s Annmarie Dubberstein, who will be skipping a team that also includes Cora Farrell, Jenna Burchesky and Allison Howell, who are not from Wisconsin. Dubberstein is a two-time Junior National Champion. She won the 2018 Junior Nationals as the vice skip for the Madison Bear rink. She also won the 2017 Junior Nationals as the skip of the winning team.
Dubberstein, a student at the University of Minnesota, and her team won the St. Paul Cashspiel earlier this season and are also qualified to compete in the upcoming Women’s National Championship, which will be held Feb. 9-16 in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Other area curlers competing on the women’s side at Junior Nationals will be four members of the Sam Jones rink. Jones, a Portage High School student from Endeavor, will be leading a team that also includes Ellie Vorpahl, of Portage; Abigail Marquardt, of Poynette; and Halie Maier, also of Endeavor.
The men’s side of the 2019 Junior Nationals will also include some area curlers, including Trevor Marquardt of Poynette, who is a member of the Chase Sinnett rink. Last year Marquardt skipped a team that finished as the runner-up at Junior Nationals, losing to Andrew Stopera in the finals, 8-3.
Other area men’s curlers set to compete in Two Harbors are Poynette’s Coleman Thurston and Jake Thurston. They are members of the Charlie Thompson rink.
The championship finals will take place on Saturday, Jan. 19. The winning teams will represent the U.S. at the 2019 World Junior Championships, which will be held Feb. 16-24 in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, Canada.