(OMAHA, Nebraska) – Years of preparation on and off the ice were satisfied this afternoon as Nina Roth, Tabitha Peterson, Aileen Geving, and Becca Hamilton won the 2018 US Olympic Team Trials for Curling to be nominated to the United States Olympic Committee as Team USA at the upcoming Olympic Winter Games.
“It hasn’t quite hit me what it all means yet. It’s really awesome,” said Roth, 29, who works as a registered nurse. “We definitely earned this. We’ve been working so hard. We formed about two years ago and have been killing it ever since. We’ve had an incredible season so far this year and intend to keep carrying this thru to the Olympics.”
With a 7-6 victory over Jamie Sinclair’s team, the Roth rink has qualified to compete in their first Olympic Games. The team is coached by Al Hackner (Thunder Bay, Ontario).
“We don’t want to just go. We want to win a medal. So, we’re going to prepare ourselves and make sure we do it right,” said Peterson, 28, who works as a pharmacist.
For Sinclair (St. Paul, Minn.) and her team of Alex Carlson (St. Paul, Minn.), Vicky Persinger (Fairbanks, Alaska), and Monica Walker (St. Paul, Minn.), the 2018 Olympic chapter doesn’t close quite yet. Currently Carlson and Persinger are qualified to compete in next month’s 2018 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Mixed Doubles. Sinclair and Walker are still trying to qualify as three spots remain open for that event, which will take place Dec. 13-17 in Blaine, Minn.
“It’s a struggle. It wasn’t my best performance. We were able to make a comeback in that game and we had a chance. It just wasn’t my best performance,” said Sinclair, 25, who shot 69 percent today.
“I totally know how it feels to be on the other side of it. Obviously four years ago we came up short in the final. Every experience you get in high pressure situations like this is just gonna help you in the future,” said Peterson, who played lead for Team Allison Pottinger at the last Olympic Trials.
The tension-filled final game of the best-of-three series was highlighted by highs and a few stumbles along the way for Team Roth. In the end the team stayed strong to live out their Olympic dreams.
“I don’t believe it yet. I guess I’ll probably wait a few days and let it soak in,” said Hamilton.
With the game seemingly in control, Team Roth missed back-to-back takeouts in the ninth end and then gave up a steal of two when Roth’s final stone of the game wasn’t released before it crossed the hogline. Needing two for the win, Roth’s team took advantage of a few half-shots from Team Sinclair to earn the deuce and the title of Olympians.
“We knew that they were going to be a tough team to play. I have an appreciation for them because they do work so hard, so I know this must be crushing for them. They played well and we battled all week,” Roth said about Team Sinclair, who along with Roth’s rink and Cory Christensen’s team are members of USA Curling’s High Performance Program.
Roth’s team started strong by applying pressure to Sinclair’s team and stole two points in the opening end when Sinclair’s final throw was light.
Roth narrowly missed a double takeout to give Sinclair’s team a draw for two to tie the game in the second end. When Roth’s final stone of the third end slipped past the tee-line, Sinclair’s team took its first lead as they earned a single steal. Things quickly turned in Roth’s favor in the fourth end when Sinclair missed a takeout attempt that allowed them to keep a deuce in play.
“I am just in shock. I’m just so happy and proud of myself, my team and everyone. It doesn’t seem real. said Geving (Duluth, Minn.), who shot 82 percent. At just age 30, this was the fourth Olympic Trials that Geving has competed in. “It’s incredible. I just feel so proud, happy to be on the U.S. team and can’t wait to go out there and perform. There’s going to be a lot of smiles for the next 82 days until we’re there.”
A huge double takeout from Roth with her final stone of the sixth end thwarted Sinclair’s deuce attempt. With three Roth stones in the house, Sinclair opted to throw a takeout but her stone rolled out of scoring position after contact and Roth’s side took the point instead.
In the eighth end, Sinclair was forced to draw for a single point against two Roth counters. The tables turned in the ninth end when nerves started to set in for Roth’s rink. Peterson missed a runback and removed her team’s stone and Sinclair drew into the four-foot behind a center guard to place a second counter in the house. Roth’s final delivery was hogged and all of a sudden Sinclair’s team had the lead for the first time since the third end.
“It’s tricky because you don’t want to get ahead off yourself. It was a lucky break for us but, we didn’t want to get a false sense of security. We kept the peddle down in the 10th end and they made a nice runback, which took the end away from us,” Sinclair said about the ninth end.
Needing two points to win, Team Roth used Peterson’s first vice skip stone to play a raise to remove Sinclair’s shot rock and leave two Roth stones in the rings. Carlson’s takeout attempt rubbed on a stone in the top of the house, which allowed Roth to bring in a third stone into scoring position. Sinclair answered with a double takeout and Roth drew behind the corner guard into the house to avoid setting up another double for Sinclair. Team Sinclair then tried to freeze to Roth’s rock but it was heavy and was swept to the back of the eight-foot and out of scoring position. After reviewing the placement of the stones, Roth realized she didn’t have to throw her final shot of the game with the winning points already in place.
Asked when she realized they had won, Peterson said: “When I hovered over the rocks. Nina thought she had to throw her last shot. I was like ‘I’m just gonna take a peek and see what’s up here. I said to Nina, ‘no, no.’ She gave me this ghost look like ‘what, are you sure?’ I’m like ‘look at it.’ So, it was pretty cool.”
“I told Nina, ‘Down by one coming home with hammer we can generate a deuce. We’ve been doing it all week.’ I knew we had to make a good shot and Tab made an excellent run to put us in position to get two,” said Hamilton, 27.
The fifth athlete to be named to the Olympic women’s team will be announced within 10 days per the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Curling procedures. Roth, Peterson and Hamilton are all also qualified to compete in the Mixed Doubles Team Trials next month.