BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. – Bill Stopera traveled more than 3,800 miles from Briarcliff Manor for the chance to become a world champion.
He felt short of that goal, but Stopera said the 2012 Men’s World Curling Championship in Basel, Switzerland was a trip he’ll never forget. Stopera and Martin Sather, of Hastings, helped represent USA’s Team McCormick after winning the 2012 USA Curling National Championships in February. The victory in Pennsylvania earned the team sponsorship from the US Curling Association, a qualifying spot in the 2014 Winter Olympics and the spot representing the U.S. in Switzerland.
“It really was the experience of a lifetime to get to play on that level against that kind of competition,” Stopera said. “Switzerland was a great place and I’m not going to forget the 18 days I had there anytime soon. But I think it’s safe to say no one is happy with how we finished.”
Team USA edged out a 7-6 win over the Czech Republic in their last match on April 5. The victory wasn’t enough to help them win the tournament, as the team concluded in eighth place with a 47 overall record. But it was more than a moral victory, Stopera said, as the win could help the team earn qualifying points for the 2014 Winter Olympics.
“It was a good comeback from a pretty bad start,” Stopera said. “We were tied late in almost every game but we couldn’t close. After that hole we put ourselves in I think we recovered pretty well, but I don’t think any of us were happy with where we finished.”
Stopera said his goal now is to concentrate on making a strong run at the Winter Olympic trials.
“The two teams haven’t been determined yet and we have secured one of the four spots for the trials,” Stopera said. Stopera practices daily, usually with teammate Sather at Ardsley Curling Club in Irvington. “I think everyone is going to want to get another chance to get out there and show what we can do.”
Stopera’s wife Perri said she was proud to see her husband compete on an international level.
“The experience of watching Bill curl in the world championships was unreal,” she said. “It was just so much fun sitting in the stands surrounded by fans from all over the world, wearing our Team USA gear, waving our USA flags. It was an experience I'll never forget.”