Sports

Two curlers with Fairbanks connections qualify for the Winter Olympics

Two curlers with Fairbanks connections are headed to the Winter Olympics in Beijing, making one the first Alaskan to qualify for the games in that sport since 2014.

Fairbanks resident Vicky Persinger, 29, earned a berth in mixed doubles with partner Chris Plys Thursday at an Olympic qualifying curling event in the Netherlands, a win against Russian opponents described by the Curling News as a “battle of nerves.” Persinger won bronze in the 2019 U.S. National Championships, one of many career highlights to date.

Colin Hufman, a 37-year-old now living in Minneapolis, is a “born and raised” Fairbanksan who’s going to the games as an alternate on the 2018 gold medal team of John Shuster. Hufman won silver last year in the Men’s National Championships, among numerous other highlights.

Persinger and Hufman played together in the Fairbanks Curling Club, the oldest organized sports group in Alaska, established in 1905.

Hufman said he texted Persinger on Thursday.

“We were basically raised in the curling club,” he said. “We don’t remember life before the curling club was part of it. I don’t.”

Both are first-time Olympians. They become the first Alaskans to officially make the 2022 team.

Anchorage skier Rosie Brennan met the criteria to qualify for the games with a podium finish in World Cup competition in Norway last weekend, according to Erik Flora, head coach of the Alaska Pacific University ski program. But she’s not officially on the Olympic team yet. That’s because the team won’t be officially named until mid-January, Flora said.

He cheered the news of the curlers and their Olympic berth.

“That’s fantastic,” he said.

Alaskan skiers regularly make the trip to the winter Olympics. But Alaskan curlers don’t make it to the games that often. Until now, Jessica Schultz was the state’s only Olympic curler, competing in 2006 and 2014. Schultz, 32, now directs the women’s national team and lives in Minneapolis.

Zaz Hollander

Longtime ADN reporter Zaz Hollander is based in the Mat-Su and is currently focused on coverage of the coronavirus in Alaska. She also covers the Mat-Su region, aviation and general assignments. Contact her at zhollander@adn.com.

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