Becca and Matt Hamilton deliver a stone against Olympic Athletes of Russia at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 on Feb. 8, 2018 in PyeongChang, South Korea.
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea -- The saying goes that blood is thicker than water, but for Team USA’s inaugural mixed doubles curling team, the two can be a golden combination so long as the water is kept below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
Becca and Matt Hamilton are one of seven sibling pairs competing for Team USA at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018. They shared their Olympic debuts not only with each other, but also with their event itself as these are the first Games to include mixed doubles.
In addition to qualifying for that event, Becca, 27, and Matt, who turns 29 during the Games, are also part of the U.S. men’s and women’s teams in PyeongChang. Should they make it to the finals in both events, they will curl on every single day of Olympic competition, totaling 18 days straight and over 50 hours on the ice.
Natives of McFarland, Wisconsin, Matt was the first to pick up curling in an effort to pass time and escape the bitter winter. Although the pair now has the chance to stand atop the Olympic podium together, Becca, the younger sibling by 17 months, admits that she may have had ulterior motives for following her brother into the sport at 15 years old.
Just like countless little sisters, Becca was simply looking for a ride.
“I was using him for his car, so I’d get a ride down to the curling club,” she said. “I was forced to go watch him in the championship final down at the curling club and after the final, his coach pulled me out on the ice and I’ve never looked back since.”
They are the 2017 U.S. champions and won the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in December.
The siblings credit their success with the ability to be “brutally honest” with each other during games. Unlike other teammates who might feel more inclined to sugar-coat criticism, the Hamiltons have had 27 years of practice giving it to each other straight, sans any hint of sugar.
“If I throw an error I want to know that,” Becca said. “I’ve practiced with Matt my whole life so he knows instantly what I’m doing wrong and vice versa.”
Just as their unique relationship sometimes increases tension on the ice, it makes every win, every tournament and every shared experience that much more meaningful.
“When we were teenagers, obviously being so close in age and being angsty kids, we kind of butted heads as youth,” Matt said. “We’re a lot closer now than we were before curling. She’s one of my best friends… She’s the calm to my storm.
When it comes their dynamic on the ice, Matt proudly bears the role of team jokester while Becca remains the quieter of the two. But don’t let their demeanors fool you, even Matt knows who’s really in charge.
“I call most of the shots, but Becca just lets me do that because most of the time we agree,” he explained. “When she really disagrees, she gets the ultimate veto power. So 90 percent of the time I feel like I’m the alpha but I think deep down she really knows she...”
“Reverse psychology,” Becca finished with a mischievous grin.
The siblings made their mark in the history books Thursday morning by winning the first ever Olympic mixed doubles match, 9-3, against Anastasia Bryzgalova and Aleksandr Krushelnitckii, a married couple representing Olympic Athletes from Russia. Going into the match, they were questioned whose bond they thought was stronger: husband and wife or brother and sister.
“Definitely the sibling bond,” Matt announced. "I can’t divorce my sister."
Cat Hendrick is a student in the sports media program at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. She is part of TeamUSA.org’s coverage team for the PyeongChang Games.