Matt Hamilton

U.S. Olympic curling team includes siblings

Leave a comment

Becca Hamilton made the U.S. Olympic curling team, and then the real pressure was on.

A few hours later Saturday, brother Matt competed in the U.S. men’s trials finals for a chance to join her in PyeongChang.

“A lot of the times, I was sitting there watching Matt’s game, biting my nails,” she said Sunday. “When we won, I was like, ‘Matt better win.'”

Matt Hamilton came through Saturday night, when John Shuster skipped his team to a victory over Team Heath McCormick 7-5 in Game 3 of the best-of-three trials finals.

Shuster, a 2006 Olympic bronze medalist, heads to a fourth straight Olympics.

Countries qualify Olympic spots based on world championships standings and then pick the teams that go to the Winter Games.

In the U.S. trials were last week in Omaha.

The men’s team will be Shuster and John Landsteiner, teammates in Sochi, as well as first-timers Tyler George and Matt Hamilton.

The entire U.S. women’s team — skip Nina Roth, Becca Hamilton, Tabitha Peterson and Aileen Geving — are first-time Olympians, having beaten Team Jamie Sinclair at the trials finals.

After the women’s best-of-three decider Saturday afternoon, Matt opened his Facebook page to see his father’s update: “My daughter’s an Olympian.”

“I was like, ‘Well, better get it now,”‘ he said by phone as the siblings drove 6 1/2 hours from Omaha to their home outside Madison, Wis.

Still, watching his sister win the trials relieved much of the pressure he felt about competing later in the day.

“If she didn’t win … I just did not want to cross that bridge at all,” Matt said. “It was harder to watch her games than it was to play in my own, because at least I have some control.”

At 28 and one year older than his sister, Matt Hamilton has been curling since 2004 , when a friend invited him to give it a try.

Becca began two years later; she was named the USA Curling Female Athlete of the Year for 2017.

Together they won the national title in mixed doubles — a coed discipline making its Olympic debut in PyeongChang.

The U.S. Olympic mixed doubles team will be decided at another trials next month in Blaine, Minn., where the Hamiltons are among the favorites.

“Having one person from a family is like the norm for an Olympics,” Matt said. “When you get two people from a family, that’s like icing on the cake.”

The siblings have already been to South Korea — Matt’s first trip to Asia — when they were invited to help the locals train for the Olympics.

They had their first logistics meeting Sunday morning, filling out paperwork, learning about housing and sizing up for Team USA uniforms and gear.

“I kind of got the chills when he was, like, showing us layouts of the Olympic village,” Matt said. “It kind of hit me like, ‘Hey, that’s going to be my dwelling in 81 days.'”

Both Hamiltons are looking forward to the chance to mingle with other athletes. Matt made friends with a bobsledder at an Olympic festival earlier this year, and he’s looking forward to catching up.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Curler Nina Roth fulfills Girl Scouts dream

It’s all about family as curling Hamiltons vie for Olympics

Becca Hamilton, Matt Hamilton
AP
Leave a comment

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — When one of his games at the U.S. Olympic curling trials was in a lull, Matt Hamilton couldn’t help but take a peek at the proceedings on the adjacent ice sheet. That’s where his sister Becca was playing.

The Hamiltons of McFarland, Wis., are here together to chase their Olympic dreams.

“It’s kind of a surreal feeling,” Matt said. “I’ve watched her come up and learn how to curl. I started two years before her, and I kind of coached her a little bit all the way through. Now to see her playing at the top level in the U.S. and be a contender along with myself in the same event is just awesome.”

Matt, 28, is a member of the team skipped by three-time Olympian and 2006 bronze medalist John Shuster, one of five competing to become the U.S. men’s team in PyeongChang.

Becca, 27, is the 2017 USA Curling Female Athlete of the Year and on the team skipped by Nina Roth, one of three in the women’s division vying for an Olympic berth.

“Really a special opportunity for my brother and I to be here,” Becca said. “We’ve been working our butts off for the last four years for this opportunity. I’m glad he’s by my side.”

MORE: Curling trials preview, broadcast schedule

Next month, Matt and Becca will compete together as one of eight two-player teams in the mixed doubles trials in Blaine, Minn. Mixed doubles makes its Olympic debut in PyeongChang. The Hamiltons are the 2017 national champions.

“Matt and I are a force to be reckoned with,” Becca said. “We work well together on the ice and off the ice.”

In men’s and women’s play, each team is made up of four players. Players alternate delivering 42-pound stones down a narrow, 150-foot sheet into a 12-foot target area known as the “house.” The skip stands in the house when not delivering and calls out where he or she wants the player to place the stone.

Two teammates follow the stone as it’s moving and, as commanded by the skip, vigorously sweep the ice in front of the stone to cause it to slide farther or alter its direction. Teams are awarded points for their stones winding up closest to the center of the house. The game lasts 10 ends, akin to innings in baseball.

The Hamiltons are among a host of family members who have competed together at the highest levels of curling over the years. Twin sisters Sarah and Taylor Anderson are at the trials with the Cory Christensen-skipped team. Sisters Cassie and Jamie Johnson were on the 2006 Olympic team.

Matt and Becca both played soccer, among other sports, before they were introduced to curling. Their father, Scott, curled in a league for about a year, but Matt didn’t get into the sport until a friend invited him to try it in 2004. Two years later Becca began playing.

Scott and Cathy Hamilton both are in Omaha to cheer on their kids.

“My mom and dad are super proud,” Becca said. “They’re with us every step of the way in every tournament we’re in, and that’s all we can ask for.”

Brother and sister spend hours in the gyms working on strength and conditioning.

“When you go out there and sweep 30 seconds as hard as you can, you have a minute and a half to be ready to go and do it again,” Matt said. “Doing it on short bursts with 100 percent effort is the main thing.”

Matt’s day job is as a research and development technician for Spectrum Brands near Madison, Wis. He adjusts his work schedule so he can train and travel across the nation, and world, for competitions.

Becca is in the Dick’s Sporting Goods Olympic Hopefuls Program, which allows her to concentrate on her curling while squeezing in hours at a Dick’s store whenever she can.

“I’m my sister’s biggest fan, and I know she’s mine,” Matt said. “We love to compete against each other. We love to chirp in each other’s ears. She’s really witty. I might say something, but she’ll get me back for sure. It’s a fun relationship, and she’s a good little sister, and I wouldn’t trade her for anybody.”

It was apparent Sunday, when both were playing at the same time, that big brother keeps an eye on her.

“Maybe on big shots I looked up at the Jumbotron and saw their situation and thought about what I would do,” Matt said. “We both know we have to take care of our business. The majority of the focus is on our game, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t look at hers.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: 100 PyeongChang Olympic storylines

Curling siblings secure mixed doubles Olympic quota spot for U.S.

Rich Harmer/USA Curling
Leave a comment

The United States will be represented when mixed doubles curling makes its Olympic debut in PyeongChang, thanks, in part, to the performance of siblings Becca and Matt Hamilton at the 2017 World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship.

Although the Hamiltons finished well off the podium in 10th, their work, coupled with a third place finish at the 2016 World Championships by Joe Polo and Tabitha Peterson, is all the U.S. needed to lock in an Olympic spot for 2018. The bronze won by Polo and Peterson in 2016 was the first time the United States had won a world championship medal in mixed doubles curling, according to TeamUSA.org.

The Hamiltons opened the 2017 World Championships with a perfect 7-0 record through pool play, but a 6-5 loss to Finland in a match that needed extra ends took them out of contention for a medal. Wins against Hungary and Italy moved them into position to get the necessary points to land the Olympic quota spot. In their final match at the 2017 Worlds the Hamiltons fell to Russia, 5-7.

At the top of the 2017 World Championship final standings, Switzerland won the gold, Canada took silver and China left with bronze.

The eight mixed doubles team field set to compete in PyeongChang includes China, Canada, Russia, Switzerland, United States, Norway, Finland and hosts Korea. Curling begins in PyeongChang on February 8, 2018, one day ahead of the Opening Ceremony, with competition lasting throughout the entire span of the Olympic Games.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Snow volleyball hopes to stake claim in Winter Olympics