By Craig Bohnert | April 23, 2016, 2:58 p.m. (ET)
(L-R) Joe Polo and Tabitha Peterson pose with their bronze medals at the World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship on April 23, 2016 in Karlstad, Sweden.


The United States duo of Tabitha Peterson and Joe Polo made history Saturday, claiming the first American medal in mixed doubles curling by winning the bronze at the 2016 World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship in Karlstad, Sweden.

The third-place finish is significant not only because of its historic value as the first won by U.S. curlers in the event; it also provides the U.S. valuable qualification points on the road to the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games, where mixed doubles curling will make its Olympic debut.

Facing eventual champion Russia in the semifinal round, Peterson and Polo scored two points in the seventh end to draw to within one, 7-6, but the Russians scored the lone point of the eighth end to relegate the U.S. to the bronze-medal match. There the Americans faced Scotland and found themselves trailing 3-1 after two ends. They reeled off six points in the next two ends. Scotland drew even by the sixth end, but Peterson and Polo posted single points in the seventh and eighth to lock up the bronze with a 9-7 final tally.

“The whole game was back and forth, back and forth,” Peterson said after the match. “Big ends here, big ends there, so it was really nerve-wracking. We just happened to make a good shot in the eighth end, and it was good enough for a steal. Getting so many Olympic qualification points is great! We cannot be any happier for that, as well as for getting a medal for ourselves. I think USA is proud and we are proud.”

Polo, a construction project manager who lives in Duluth, Minnesota, may be getting accustomed to making U.S. curling history, having already done so as a member of the first team to win an Olympic medal, a bronze, at the Torino 2006 Olympic Games. Ten years later, he is teamed with Peterson in an attempt to score a berth in PyeongChang, where mixed doubles will make its inaugural Olympic appearance. A five-time national champion, Polo was named USA Curling’s Athlete of the Year in 2010 and was part of the U.S. Olympic Team of the Year in 2006.

After finishing second at the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team Trials, Peterson joined Polo on the campaign to PyeongChang. A pharmacist in St. Paul, Minnesota, she was part of the world championship crews that finished fifth in 2012 and sixth in 2014. She holds a medal of each hue from the U.S. national championships and took gold at the 2013 Continental Cup.

Russia won the gold with a 7-5 victory over China and earned 14 qualification points for PyeongChang. China picked up 12, while the United States earned 10. Others receiving points were: Scotland (9), Canada (8), Estonia (7), Finland (6), England (5), Norway (4), Slovakia (3), Austria (2) and Ireland (1).