October 30, 1981 |
|Curling club||Bemidji CC, Bemidji, Minnesota|
Cassandra "Cassie" Potter (née Johnson) (born October 30, 1981) is an American curler best known for skipping the United States Women's Curling Team at the 2006 Winter Olympics and the 2005 Women's World Curling Championships.
Potter was born in Bemidji, Minnesota, a curling hotbed. She began playing the game at age 5, and honed the strategic elements of her game by watching Canadian curling competitions on television. After playing as an alternate at the 1998 World Junior Curling Championships for the 5th-place U.S. team skipped (captained) by Hope Schmitt, Cassandra returned to the Junior Championships in 2002, this time as the skip of the team; she and her United States squad went on to capture the gold medal with a win over Matilda Mattsson of Sweden. In 2003, Cassie returned once again to the World Junior Championships, and once again made it to the final. However, this time she lost, with Marliese Miller of Canada winning the gold. In 2005, Johnson competed in the U.S. 2006 Olympic Trials/National Championships, which she won, thus gaining the right to represent the USA at both the 2006 Winter Olympics and the 2005 World Women's Curling Championship. At the 2005 World Championships, she again won a silver medal, this time losing to Anette Norberg's Swedish rink in the final. For her efforts, Cassie was named USA Curling's Female Athlete of the Year in 2005. During competition, Cassie is known for her strong sense of strategy, her leadership, her patience, and her ability to perform in the clutch (a trait that earned her the nickname "Automatic" during the 2005 World Championships). Cassie made a difficult, pressure-packed shot in the 11th end of the final match of the 2006 Olympic Trials to qualify for the Turin Games.
Cassie comes from a rich curling heritage. Her grandparents and great-grandparents were curlers, her parents, Tim and Liz Johnson, won the U.S. national mixed curling title in 1980, and Cassie's older sister, Jamie Johnson, joined her on the United States Olympic team in Turin. Since their first competition together, Cassie has always been the skip of the Johnson girls' rink, despite being 15 months younger than Jamie. Both attribute this to the fact that Cassie was the more precocious of the two growing up. "I was a little brat when I was younger," Cassie says. "I was just like, 'I’m going to be skip and you’re going to be third' and that’s just how it ended up." One of the first times she skipped a game, at about age 10, Cassie's team was beaten badly ("she got creamed," in her mom's words) and she vowed to never skip again, but it wasn't long before she was back on the sheet, more determined to win than ever. "I'm happy [that Cassie took over for me as skip]," Jamie says. "She does a good job with the pressure shots, the strategy... I have total confidence in Cassie that she can do last rocks."
Cassie's first Winter Olympics experience was a difficult one, though, as she and her United States team lost five of their first six matches en route to a mediocre 2-7 record in the round-robin stage of the tournament. The U.S. "Curl Girls"' showing at Turin was made that much more disappointing by both the hype surrounding them going into the Games (she and her teammates were media darlings in the weeks leading up to the Olympics -- Sports Illustrated even picked the then Team Johnson to win the bronze medal), and by the success of the alternatively unheralded United States men's curling team (who actually won bronze). Still, Cassie was unwaveringly upbeat despite the poor performance.
On a personal note, Cassie became engaged the week after the Olympics ended. She recently graduated from Bemidji State University with a degree in graphic design (her fiancé also attended Bemidji State and studied in the same field.). She got married in 2007. She enjoys fishing and listening to music when she's not curling, and is a big fan of the Minnesota Twins. When she was 12, Cassie was diagnosed with a heart murmur due to a congenital heart defect in her tricuspid valve, but the condition is not severe and does not interfere with her daily life.
Potter unintentionally became a bit of a sex symbol during the Turin Games. Her biography page at NBC's Winter Olympics website was among the most-viewed of any U.S. athlete, and she received countless marriage proposals from men all over the world at the U.S. Women's Curling Team's official blog, which crashed early in the Games after receiving 12.9 million hits in one day. "We were getting e-mails from Germany and Belgium saying, 'I love you,'" laughed Potter. "I said, 'What? You just saw me on TV.'"
Immediately after the 2006 Olympics, a re-arrangement occurred on the team's roster for the 2006 U.S. World Team Trials. Due to an extended travel schedule in Europe (and her recent engagement), Cassie would become the team's alternate, while Jessica Schultz skipped the team. At the trials, the team finished in fourth place, losing the 3-4 page game to Margie Smith. The team went back to their Olympic lineup for later events, however. Cassie returned to action as a celebrity skip on March 23, 2006, at the House Of Hearts Bonspiel in Duluth, Minnesota.
Teammates at the 2006 Winter Olympics
- U.S. Olympic Team Trials: 2006 (gold), 2002 (bronze)
- Frances Brodie Award: 2005
- USA Curling Female Athlete of the Year: 2005
- USA Curling Team of the Year: 2005, 2002
- World Curling Championships: 2005 (silver)
- U.S. World Team Trials/Nationals: Silver (2007), Champion (2005), semifinalist (2004, 2003, 2002)
- WJCC All-Star Skip: 2002
- Medalist, Junior World Championships: 2003 (silver), 2002 (gold)
- U.S. Junior Nationals: Gold medal (2003, 2002), Silver medal (2001, 1998), Bronze medal (2000, 1999, 1996)
- Minnesota State Women's Championship: 2004 (champion)
- Wisconsin State Women's Championship: 2003 (champion)
- Minnesota State Junior Women's Championship: 6-time champion
- Karuizawa, Japan International Bonspiel: 2005 (silver medalist)
- Winner, Curtis Cup (team sportsmanship award) at U.S. Junior Nationals in 1999 and 2000
- ^ From NBCOlympics.com's Q & A with Cassie (full text here )
- ^ From USA Curl's fact sheet on the team
- ^ From NBCOlympics.com's Q & A with Jamie Johnson (full text here )
- ^ From Elfi Schlegel's blog at NBCOlympics.com (full article)
- ^ AdWeek blog entry (full article)
- ^ From Newhouse News Service (full article)