Vicki Persinger and Christopher Plys have been crowned champions at the 2021 U.S. Mixed Doubles in Wausau, WI.
The duo defeated Madison Bear and Andrew Stopera 7-5 in a tight final battle between the top two mixed doubles teams in the 24-pair field.
Persinger/Plys opened with a big three-count in the opening end of play, but were tied 4-4 at the break.
Persinger opened the second half of the game by drawing for a single point against two opposition counters before she and Plys worked a steal in the sixth end for a 6-4 lead. The steal was critical as it also nullified Bear and Stopera’s attempted power play.
Bear and Stopera were forced to one in the seventh, to the point that Bear had no chance for a multiple score, and threw her final stone away.
In the eighth end, Persinger and Plys used their power play but had a rocky start. A switch from defensive to offensive play paid off, however, when Plys hit on his final stone of the end to lie shot stone touching the four-foot. Bear’s subsequent come-around attempt came up light, and Persinger didn’t need to throw her final stone.
Persinger and Plys (Chaska, MN) defeated Aileen Geving and Luc Violette of Duluth, MN 8-5 in their semifinal matchup.
The pair lost the 2019 U.S. mixed doubles championship final 7-5 to the pairing of Cory Christensen and John Shuster, who won bronze at the 2019 world championship. Plys plays third for Shuster’s four-player men’s team, while Persinger—a winner of six national women’s medals since 2016—plays front end for Christensen’s four-player women’s squad
Bear and Stopera, also representing Chaska, ran to a 7-0 won/loss record leading up to the final, scoring a whopping 60 points while surrendering only 24. They won their semifinal 7-2 over Jenna Burchesky and Ben Richardson from Walpole, MA.
Bear won bronze medals at the 2019 and 2016 U.S. women’s four-player championships for skip Christensen. She also skipped the U.S. junior women’s four-player team at three consecutive world junior championships, winning bronze in 2016.
Stopera’s junior curling legacy is even stronger. He’s won three national junior titles—scoring world silver in 2017—and a total of seven medals in seven years, between 2013 and 2019.
Bear will skip her women’s four-player squad against Persinger’s Team Christensen at the U.S women’s nationals that get underway at Wausau on May 25. Seven teams are in the field, with recent world bronze medalists Team Tabitha Peterson not competing.
Stopera’s Team Rich Ruohonen will see four-player men’s action against Team Violette and eight other teams at the men’s four-player championship, held in conjunction with the women’s competition. Team John Shuster, who placed fifth at the recent men’s worlds, is not competing.