Hamilton siblings move on to gold medal game

By Terry L. Davis | Dec. 17, 2017, 1:07 a.m. (ET)


Dec. 16, 2017


Hamiltons advance to final at 2018 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Mixed Doubles Curling


(BLAINE, Minn.) –  With an eighth end steal, siblings Becca Hamilton and Matt Hamilton punched their tickets to the final of the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Mixed Doubles Curling.


The Hamiltons stole two points in the final end to defeat Cory Christensen (Duluth, Minn.) and John Shuster (Superior, Wis.), 6-3, tonight at Fogerty Arena in the Page 1-2 playoff game.


“It feels good. It was a really tough, hard-fought game. John and Cory played great. Becca played great. I had a few hiccups but she was able to pick me up when she needed to and we were fortunate to be the victors,” said Matt Hamilton, who will play with Shuster in the men’s competition in PyeongChang.


The Hamiltons are now in the gold-medal game while Christensen and Shuster will take on Vicky Persinger (Fairbanks, Alaska) and Jared Zezel (Mountain Iron, Minn.) in the single semifinal at 10 a.m. CT tomorrow. The gold-medal game will then take place at 3 p.m.


“That’s the beauty of the 1-2 game is we get another shot tomorrow. We didn’t even play that bad tonight. We played really great and have been playing great all week. We just have to keep that going into tomorrow and we’re still in it,” said Christensen, who will be the alternate for Nina Roth’s team in PyeongChang.


Persinger and Zezel defeated Nina Roth (McFarland, Wis.) and Kroy Nernberger (Madison, Wis.), 8-4, in the Page 3-4 playoff game to advance to the semifinal.


“It was a big win and we played pretty well,” said Zezel, who was a member of the 2014 Olympic Team with Shuster. “We struggled early on with a couple of rock placement issues but we got away with it. Scoring three in the third end was big. That helped us and got us in the groove a little bit but other than that we played well and kept the pressure on them.”


The winner of the semifinal will move on to face the Hamiltons, who have now won six straight games after an 0-2 start to the tournament.


“We had to stay patient. It was a game of ones. In the fifth end, we came back from the fourth end break and were talking about how we needed to capitalize. Matt had a bad break and had a pick that end and then John had an unfortunate freeze that set me up for a pretty standard double. We were able to peel it out and at that point. We just had the ball rolling and were capitalizing when we could,” said Becca Hamilton, who will compete with Roth’s team at the Olympics.


The double steal in the final end was the lone frame that featured more than a single point scored.


“In the first end, I had the chance to guarantee a big end. I threw it and it kind of ran down the sheet and left them an out. We gave up a steal in the first end instead of getting three. The whole game was a battle and we were on the wrong side of the positioning rocks there. If I make either of my first two shots in the last end, we’re in great position to win the game,” Shuster said.


The Hamiltons stole a point in the opening end when Christensen’s tap didn’t move a stone into first scoring position. Christensen was forced to make a takeout for a single point then in second end. Matt Hamilton inadvertently removed three of his own team’s stones in the third end that allowed Christensen to draw a third rock into scoring position. Becca’s double takeout attempt rolled her shooter stone out of scoring position to give up a steal of one. The Hamilton duo would be held to a single point in the fourth end as a cluster of granite around the four-foot cluttered the path to the button. The Madison Curling Club teammates then came up with a steal in the fifth after Becca Hamilton’s double takeout forced Christensen into a difficult draw.


A raise double takeout from Matt Hamilton in the sixth end held Christensen to a draw for just one point to even the scoreboard once again. In the seventh end, the Hamiltons put their power play in motion but only got a point when Becca Hamilton’s final stone rolled out of the house after making an open takeout. As the final end unfolded, Shuster inadvertently removed several of his team’s stones with an off-target shot. That allowed Becca Hamilton to place another rock in the house with her team’s final rock. Christensen attempted a raise double takeout but couldn’t convert for the win.


“It’s always a little bit of bittersweet because he’s a good friend of mine and I don’t like seeing him lose. Because typically when I see him lose it means I lost too being his teammate. He’s a great sport, a good winner and a good loser. He’s a good friend of mine and I know there’s no hard feelings there,” Matt Hamilton said about beating his usual teammate.


Persinger and Zezel controlled their match against Roth and Nernberger and after trading singles to start the game, the duo dropped a three-ender on the scoreboard in the third end. Roth’s final stone of the fourth end only resulted in a single as Persinger and Zezel held a 4-2 halftime lead. After the break, Roth’s last stone didn’t curl enough and it was left in the open for Zezel to remove for three more points. Roth and Nernberger countered with a deuce in the fifth end after putting their power play to use. However, Zezel made a takeout to score a point in the seventh for a four-point lead that was too much for Roth and Nernberger to overcome.


It was the third straight win for Persinger and Zezel as they march further into the playoffs. “It’ll be exciting,” Persinger said of the semifinal matchup against Christensen and Shuster. “We’ll need to be more accurate with our rock placement tomorrow and focus on the game then we’ll be alright.”


Scores, standings and athlete information can be found at www.usacurl.org


Line score, Page playoff 1-2 game:

Hamilton-Hamilton        100 110 12 – 6

*Christensen-Shuster    011 001 00 – 3


Line score, Page playoff 3-4 game:

*Persinger-Zezel             103 030 1x – 8

Roth-Nernberger            010 102 0x – 4

*last rock in first end


The team that wins the Mixed Doubles Curling Trials will be named to the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team, pending approval by the United States Olympic Committee. The Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 will take place Feb. 9-25 in South Korea.


About mixed doubles:

Games for mixed doubles are eight ends in length and teams throw five stones, compared to a traditional curling match that lasts 10 ends with eight stones per team. One player throws the first and last rock of the end while their teammate delivers the other three stones. Complete rules and more info can be found at http://www.worldcurling.org/owg2018/about-mixed-doubles-curling. Mixed doubles will debut as an Olympic medal sport in 2018 in PyeongChang, South Korea. Eight countries will compete, and the U.S. is one of only three countries that qualified in all three disciplines, with Canada and Switzerland also achieving that benchmark. (Korea, as host, also will compete in all three.) The Olympic mixed doubles competition will take place Feb. 8-13 prior to the start of the men’s and women’s team competition in Gangneung, South Korea.




For more information: Terry Davis, Director of Communications, terry.davis@usacurl.org, 608-338-9900 (mobile) or 715-344-1199, Ext. 202 (office).