By JIMMY GOLEN, AP Sports Writer
Becca Hamilton earned an Olympic berth as a member of the American women’s curling team, and then the real pressure was on.
A few hours later, her brother, Matt, was competing in the U.S. men’s trials 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 on Sunday, a day after the siblings each claimed a spot in the 2018 Winter Games. “When we won, I was like, ‘Matt better win.’”
Matt Hamilton came through on 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 playoff. Shuster, who won a bronze medal in at the Turin Games in 2006, will be attending his fourth straight Olympics.
Countries qualify for the Olympics based on their world championship performance, and then pick the teams that will go to the Winter Games. In the United States, players form their own teams of four and compete as a unit for the Olympic berth; the American trials were last week in Omaha, Nebraska.
The men’s team will be Shuster and John Landsteiner, who were teammates in Sochi four years ago, as well as first-timers Tyler George and Matt Hamilton. All four players on the 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.
After the women’s final in the 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 in a telephone interview as the siblings drove the 6 1/2 hours from the trials in Omaha to their home outside of Madison, Wisconsin.
Still, watching his sister win in the women’s 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, and together they won the American championship in mixed curling — a coed discipline that makes its Olympic debut in Pyeongchang.
The Hamiltons have also qualified for next month’s U.S. mixed curling trials in Blaine, Minnesota, and have a chance to go to the Olympics as a team.
“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 — it was Matt’s first trip to Asia — when they were invited to help the locals train for the Olympics. They had their first logistics meeting on Sunday morning, when they filled out paperwork, learned about their housing and got sized up for their 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. But the two seemed most excited about another celebrity heading for the Winter Games.
“We both want to meet Bob Costas,” Becca said.