Tom & Corey: From Youth Olympics to Olympic Park, Sochi

Korey Dropkin and Tom Howell have their eyes set on a future Olympic appearance WCF/Richard Gray

This is Korey Dropkin and Tom Howell’s third trip overseas to curl. They are two of 12 athletes at the World Junior Curling Championships who represented their country at the Youth Olympic Games 2012 in Innsbruck, Austria.

When signing up for trials to compete in the USA’s Youth Olympic team, Howell, team USA third at the World Junior Curling Championships 2013, admitted he didn’t think the event was on as grand of a scale as it actually was. “When we got there it was basically the Olympics, and I think that was the coolest part about the whole experience,” Howell said. “It was the first one ever so I think it was a total honour to represent our country there.”

Howell’s skip at the Youth Olympics in Innsbruck was Korey Dropkin. Both players returned to Sochi for this year’s World Junior Curling Championship, Korey again playing as skip. Korey won the bronze medal in the Mixed Doubles event with Russian Marina Verenich, but took away more than just a medal from Austria. “It was a great opportunity to travel the world and it was great competition,” Dropkin said.

The event has helped them become one of the top junior men’s teams in the United States and with that comes a lot of pressure. “It’s just like Martin or Howard or Stoughton and how everyone expects them to win. Now, when we’re in the US, people are going for us all the time now,” Howell said. “It’s humbling, but it puts that pressure on you at a young age that you will experience once you get to that next level.”

In addition to coping with the pressure, the Youth Olympic Games taught them valuable lessons too. “I think the biggest thing we took away from it was there is so much more about the Olympic experience and Olympic values,” Howell said.

This is the second time Dropkin and Howell have represented the USA at the World Junior Curling Championships. They finished fifth last year in Östersund, Sweden. After playing in the Youth Olympics and in Sochi’s Olympic curling venue, their team has set their goals high.

“The Youth Olympics set the inspiration for us. Being able to experience what we did in Austria makes us strive even more to get to the next level and being able to go to the actual Olympics. Everything we learned there was amazing, so what an opportunity it’d be to go back at an even higher level,” Dropkin said.

“It’s nice to be able to curl at this facility, the one that the Olympians will be curling at and be able to see it before they will see it,” Howell added. “It’s cool being in the locker room and knowing that in just under one year the best curlers in the world will be sitting here.”

Korey has tasted medal success before, both at a national level and at the Youth Olympics. Now he and Tom want to mark their continual progress with recognition at junior level. Leaving Sochi with a medal would definitely indicate their rapid development over the last two years since their time in Innsbruck. It will also be the first medals to be won by a US team in Sochi in what will be a very important 12 months for US Curling.

By Kyle Jahns
WCF Trainee Journalist

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