Chasing Olympic gold is ‘all in the family’ for U.S. women curlers

Tabitha Peterson, Nina Roth, Becca Hamilton and Tara Peterson of the United States celebrate at the 2022 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Curling
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For U.S. women curlers, saying their quest to capture a first-ever Olympic curling medal for American women is “all in the family” is a spot-on assessment.

Led by skip Tabitha Peterson, 32, she’s joined in Beijing by younger sister Tara Peterson, 30, as lead. And they’re not the only siblings on Team USA’s curling squad, as 31-year-old Becca Hamilton (second) is making her second Olympics appearance along with her brother, U.S. men’s team member Matt Hamilton.

Round out the women’s squad is the true mother of the group – 33-year-old Nina Roth, who skipped the U.S. women in 2018 and returns for her second Winter Games as a first-time mom to 2-year-old son Nolan.

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For the Peterson sisters, parents Shel Peterson and Gaye Skelly Peterson remember their daughters falling in love with curling at a young age, following family tradition that started with Gaye’s father, George “Doc” Skelly, in Winnipeg. Skelly moved his family to St. Paul, Minn., in 1967 to attend radiology school and joined the St. Paul Curling Club, where the team won the Winter Carnival curling championships in 1969, 1970 and 1971.

Gaye – pronounced “Jay” – took up the sport herself in 1999 and followed in her father’s footsteps to win three Winter Carnival Championships in 2002, 2003 and 2004.

“We were [at] Opening Ceremonies, someone said that with curling you’re born into it, and it’s kind of true,” Tara, a dentist, told the media ahead of their Olympic tournament kickoff. “It’s something that as families you just do, and you keep doing, so that’s why there are a lot of siblings and families in the sport.”

“It’s super cool, being sisters,” added Tabitha, who works as a retail pharmacist. “It’s really special that we get to share this experience together. …It was just easy — an automatic teammate.”

Roth is also in the medical field, working as a full-time nurse in Madison, Wisc., where’s she’s been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I would love to be able to focus 100 percent of my time on curling, but nursing is also a big passion of mine,” said Roth prior to the Olympics. “If I wasn’t doing at least a little bit of both, I wouldn’t feel quite as fulfilled, I don’t think.”

The U.S. women, who finished eighth in PyeongChang, ride some momentum into Beijing after capturing bronze at the 2021 worlds, marking the first worlds medal for U.S. women in 15 years. They’ll face stiff competition from familiar foes Canada and Sweden.