Countdown to trials

Jeff Albertini, JNA Media, for USA Curling

Cassie Potter is hoping to qualify for a second Olympics at the U.S. Olympic trials, held Nov. 10-17 in Fargo.

The past few months have been a whirlwind. Where did the weeks go? How did it get to be November so fast?

The laundry has piled up more times than I can count, I haven’t gone shopping for groceries in weeks, my toothbrush has found a better home in my travel bag, and my curling shoes are a permanent fixture in the back of my car in case I have a chance to hit the ice during the day.

Courtesy Cassie Potter

Cassie Potter (holding the gear bag) and her team have been on the road nonstop this season, in preparation for the trials and, hopefully, the Olympics as well.

It’s less than a week before opening ceremonies of the U.S. Olympic curling trials on Nov. 10 and I’m ready to go. Of course, for those who know me well, I won’t be completely ready -- as in packed -- until the night before, or possibly even until the morning we drive up to Fargo. I’m going to squeeze in every moment I can with my family while I’m home, even if it means letting the dishes go for a little while longer or ignoring the tumbleweeds of dog hair floating in the corners of our house.

My teammates and I had a great final practice this past weekend. We rallied up some local competitive curlers to play a couple of timed 10-end games. World Curling Tour events are eight ends (an “end” is when both teams have thrown all eight stones), but competitions leading up to worlds or Olympics are 10 ends. And there is a significant difference between eight and 10 ends. With more ends, big comebacks are possible, and a patient strategy can sometimes be required.

We also played timed games, so we had to focus on keeping a good pace in shot selection and preparation in the hack (the starting block where curlers push from). All of these things were important steps in getting mentally prepared for what next week will bring.

Curlers and curling fans will have the chance to get together throughout the week and cheer on their favorite teams, or cheer for good shots, or both. All nine teams -- men’s and women’s -- will be playing with passion for the right to represent the USA in Sochi in February. There will be spectacular shots and missed shots (and we’ll wish we could have second chances), dreams realized and hearts broken.

But it will be a fantastic week. We’ve all put a lot of time and dedication toward the trials and toward making the team. Now it’s finally here!