Results tagged ‘ Nagano ’
Olympians Erika & Craig Brown, brother and sister, lifelong Brewers fans and Wisconsin natives, were on hand to throw out the ceremonial first pitches prior to today’s game.
If you will recall, I wrote a feature on Erika back in January, as she prepared for the Sochi Olympics, so it was great to finally meet her and I know she enjoyed being back in her home state, with her family by her side.
Originally from Madison, Wisconsin, Erika and Craig began curling at a young age, taking after their parents who also played the sport.
Both Erika and Craig participated in the Sochi Olympics, Erika as member of the Women’s U.S. Olympic Curling Team, and Craig was a member of the Men’s U.S. Olympic Curling team.
Their father, Steve Brown, was also the U.S. Paralympic Wheelchair Curling coach at Sochi.
“It was an unbelievable family experience for all of us, including mother Diane, who was also a member of the 1988 Olympic team with Erika in Calgary,” Steve said.
We’re proud to have them all out at Miller Park today.
The first time Erika Brown made the U.S. Olympic Curling team, guys like Paul Molitor, Robin Yount, and Juan Nieves graced the Brewers roster.
It was 1988 and the then 15-year-old was headed to Calgary for the XV Olympic Winter Games where curling would debut as a demonstration sport.
It’s now 2013 and Erika, a lifelong Brewers fan and Wisconsin native, is on the road to Sochi, hoping for the chance to compete in her third Olympics in a sport that’s always been a family affair.
Originally from Madison, Wisconsin, Erika began curling in 1980 at the age of 7, taking after her mom, dad and brother, who all played the sport.
“In 1988, I remember being there with my family. My parents were there. My dad was our coach and my mom was our alternate on our team. The ceremonies were overwhelming,” she reminisced.
Erika made her second trip to the Olympics 10 years later, in Nagano in 1998.
“I think in 1998, we all were more experienced. We had different expectations. We had competed at that time for 10 years on a world stage. Nagano was great. Curling had gained more recognition and popularity by that time. There was great fan support and fun crowds. It was amazing!”
Erika’s team won the Women’s Curling Championship in Green Bay earlier this year, which qualified them for the Olympic Team Trials. And it felt extra special that it happened in her home state in front of family and friends.
“There were lots of Wisconsin curling fans there and it was fun to be in such a fun sporting town, too. We were right near Lambeau Field.”
The Olympian also adds accomplished golfer to her resume—she was the Wisconsin State High School champ in 1990 and 1991 and twice the City of Madison women’s champion as well.
“I don’t get a chance to play as much as I want to anymore, but golf is a great compliment to curling. There are a lot of similarities—repetitive motion, timing, strategy,” Erika said.
Although Erika has since moved to Ontario with her husband (a three-time World Champion curler himself) and children, she’s still a Brewers fan at heart and follows the team from afar.
“Growing up, we were always Brewers fans. We were members of the Brewers Fan Club, the year they won the pennant, in 1982. I remember my dad would get home at 5pm and we would get in our van. We’d stop to get pizza and eat it on the drive to Milwaukee for the games. We went to 17 games that season, we were all into it.”
In addition to curling and golf, Erika was well versed in many other sports growing up, including little league.
“I played infield, so I tried to emulate Robin Yount,” she said with a laugh.
Gorman Thomas was her favorite player and Erika even has photos of herself with Stormin’ Gorman and many of the members of that ’82 team from a Kids Picture Day that season:
And, although she didn’t make it to any playoff games, she says she also has a photo from the night the Brewers won the pennant.
“It’s one of my favorite photos. My brother and I have all of our gear on the night they won the pennant and we’re in our living room, celebrating,” she said.
So, while Erika continues to cheer on the Brewers, we’ll continue to cheer on her and the other Olympic hopefuls on the road to Sochi.
Erika’s next stop is North Dakota for the Olympic Team Trials, Sunday, November 10 through Sunday, November 17.
“With Curling, it’s such a combination of skills. Fitness has become a really integral part of the game. As a skip [Editor’s Note: The skip is the captain of the team, responsible for determining strategy], what I love is how strategic and cerebral it is and the experience is a huge factor. Having played for so long, that’s helpful and that’s why I like the position I play and the strategy that goes into the game. The other great thing is my teammates. We all work together and lift each other up. For me it’s created friendships and lifelong bonds.”
We already know Brewers fans are everywhere—and we hope there’s one more in Sochi next February.