OGDEN — They hugged, they cried. They're going to the big dance.

The Kari Erickson Rink from Bemidji, Minn., defeated the Nicole Joraanstad Rink 8-2 last night to clinch an Olympic berth in February 2002.

They did so undefeated, 9-0, thus far, in the 2001 U.S. Olympic Curling Trials at The Ice Sheet in Ogden. They have one round left to play, today at 1 p.m., but it's only for the record books — and to determine runners-up.

"It hasn't sunk in," Erickson said moments after throwing the final stone against a determined young Team Joraanstad, the 2001 U.S. Junior National Champions. Team Erickson is the defending 2001 U.S. National Champions.

"We went into this game knowing we had to win today or tomorrow (to clinch the berth)," she said. The closest team to them was the Patti Lank Rink, which will play Team Erickson today.

For a while it seemed Team Joraanstad might give them a run to the finish. Team Erickson was holding a 1-0 edge in the fifth end when Skip Erickson stole two points on the final rock. In the seventh end, Erickson had her squad place three stones on opposite ends of the "house." Joraanstad placed one stone in on her last rock, but Erickson served up a take-out for three points, putting her team up 6-1.

At this point, Team Erickson was feeling the burn of Olympic flame.

"How many can say, 'I'm going to be an Olympian,' " she said following the game. The first thing she did was run to the phone and call her husband, Darren, and son, 3-year-old Zachary, in Bemidji. She said Zachary didn't know what an Olympian was.

In men's play, the Tim Somerville Team moved one step closer to clinching Olympic berth. They defeated the Jason Larway Team 4-3 in a close-fought round to win their eighth game in a row. They are now two games ahead of the nearest competitor. With a win today at 1 p.m. against the Paul Pustovar Team, Somerville can clinch it.


E-mail: julied@desnews.com