U.S. Olympic curling team includes siblings

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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.

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