U.S. Olympic hopefuls will travel to the University of Nebraska at Omaha before heading to the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in South Korea, officials announced Monday.
The first will come in November 2017 with the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Curling.
It will lead into the 2018 Winter Games and be hosted by UNO, Baxter Arena and the Omaha Sports Commission, in partnership with the Aksarben Curling Club.
“We are very excited about the potential for our sport’s growth in Omaha and across the United States as we bring the upcoming U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Curling to Nebraska for the first time. Much like when Omaha was selected to host its first of what has now been three straight Olympic Trials for USA Swimming, I suspect this announcement may cause a little head scratching around the curling community. Especially since we had very strong bids from several cities that have done a great job hosting major championship curling events previously,” said Rick Patzke, USA Curling’s chief executive officer in a press release.
“Along with our entire selection panel, I was highly impressed by the professionalism of the bid, the facilities to be used, and the partnership between the Omaha Sports Commission, University of Nebraska Omaha’s Baxter Arena, and the Aksarben Curling Club. The additional information gathered in a site visit confirmed that Omaha is serious about making these the best Olympic Trials ever for curling, and we believe that the competing athletes and fans in attendance will ultimately find that to be true.”
The 7,800-seat Baxter Arena opened nearly a year ago and is home to UNO hockey, basketball and volleyball. It also has been used for concerts, graduations, banquets and other events.
But the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Curling will be the first UNO-Omaha Sports Commission hookup for a non-NCAA event — and Chief Operating Officer Wes Hall said the OSC is working with UNO on bids for other future ice sports.
“Omaha has been the first stop for many world-class athletes on their way to the Olympic Games and we are grateful the University of Nebraska Omaha will be a part of that tradition,” said Trev Alberts, University of Nebraska Omaha Vice Chancellor of Athletics, in a press release. “We can’t wait to welcome local and national fans to experience this unique Olympic event and have the chance to show off UNO’s Baxter Arena to a world audience.”
The U.S. Trials will be held Nov. 12 to Nov. 19 in 2017. The men’s and women’s teams will be pointing toward the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
The Trials will include 18 hours of live or tape-delayed coverage on NBC and the NBC Sports Network.