(OMAHA, Nebraska) – Nervous energy can be a good and a bad thing. With all members of Team Sinclair and Team Roth on the brink of making their first Olympic team, there’s bound to be an endless amount of nerves in the air at the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Curling.
As game two of the best-of-three playoff series came to a close this afternoon at Baxter Arena, Jamie Sinclair’s team survived an extra-end thriller against Nina Roth to force a third game tomorrow, which will determine the women’s 2018 U.S. Olympic Curling Team.
Sinclair (St. Paul, Minn.) and her team of Alex Carlson (St. Paul, Minn.), Vicky Persinger (Fairbanks, Alaska), and Monica Walker (St. Paul, Minn.) defeated Roth, 7-6, with the final stone of the game.
“Well, it is nice to play tomorrow. We were pretty sure this was going all three games. We have split a lot of games with them throughout the years. It just isn’t surprising to play all three,” Carlson said.
Roth (McFarland, Wis.) and teammates Tabitha Peterson (St. Paul, Minn.), Aileen Geving (Duluth, Minn.), and Becca Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.) won game one yesterday, which also went to an extra end.
“Yeah, we were excited. We got in our groove a couple ends into that game. We had our opportunities. They were nervous too and missed some shots We just didn’t execute on top of that,” said Roth, who shot 71 percent.
The turning point of the match came in the latter ends when both sides suffered hiccups that gave the other side an opening to score.
“We play a good number of high pressure games throughout the season, even just our national championship game last year. We have put ourselves in this position enough times now that we have learned how to get through and handle the nervousness because no one can say they are not nervous,” said Carlson, who shot 88 percent.
Roth was forced to draw for a single point in the second end as she faced two Sinclair rocks in the rings to get the scoring going. Sinclair’s team answered with a deuce when they were successful with a runback attempt in the third. Both sides were forced to take points with the last rock over the next two ends as Sinclair held a modest 3-2 lead at the halfway mark.
As the sixth end unfolded, Roth had a stone on the button protected by a center guard. Sinclair perfectly placed her first skip stone in front of it, which resulted in a smaller scoring area for Roth to attempt to draw into for two points. Roth’s final stone was heavy as the team only scored one to tie the game.
In the seventh end, Roth’s team got a stone in good position on the button behind a center guard early in the end once again. Roth used her skip stones to protect it, forcing Sinclair to play a difficult draw with the hammer. Sinclair’s team reached the button but Roth’s stone was just a smidge closer, awarding them the point.
Hamilton’s lead stone got protected by a center guard once again in the eighth end to fluster Team Sinclair. Roth had a double takeout lined up well to retain control but the team missed the sweep call and Sinclair ended up having an easy takeout to score two.
In the ninth end, Roth had a big end building but set Sinclair up for a double takeout as she drew a third stone into the house. Roth ended up having to draw for a point instead of potentially scoring three, but it was heavy and Sinclair’s team pulled ahead, 6-4.
“The ninth end was a little dicey for my liking,” Sinclair said. “They could have scored a big end on us, so I was a little nervous there. Then the 10th end we made a lot of great shots, the end was wide open. I was really close on my runback on my last shot, so that was good momentum for us going in to the extra end.”
Down two with the hammer, Roth used her first skip stone to make an end-saving freeze to one of Sinclair’s stones in the eight-foot. Sinclair attempted the runback to remove it but ended up taking her own stone out of play instead. Roth then had an open draw for two points to force an extra end. When Geving’s stone slipped out of the back of the house in the 11th end, Sinclair’s team was able to peel the guard and take back control of the house. Sinclair eventually drew into the eight-foot with the final stone for the win.
“It is interesting to give up a steal like that because we were mentally prepared to be tied with the hammer in the tenth end, but then we stole one, so it is like, ‘ok ,what do we do now we are up two without?’ Sinclair said about the 10th end. “It is tricky because when you go super defensive the odds of them scoring a deuce is very high. We realized that, we acknowledged that, and we said it is ok if they get two because it will be the same situation just an end later.”
The women’s game will re-air tonight on NBCSN at 9:30 p.m. CT following the live coverage of the second men’s playoff game between John Shuster and Heath McCormick at 6:30 p.m. CT. A complete TV and webstream schedule is below.
Line score, women’s playoff #2:
*Nina Roth 010 101 100 20 – 6
Jamie Sinclair 002 010 021 01 – 7
*last rock in first end
1:30 p.m., women’s playoff #1 (Sinclair v. Roth), live via webstream at www.NBCSports.com
6 p.m., men’s playoff #1 (Shuster v. McCormick), live on NBCSN & live online
9 p.m., women’s playoff #1 replay, NBCSN
1 p.m., women’s playoff #2 (Sinclair v. Roth), live via webstream at www.NBCSports.com
6:30 p.m., men’s playoff #2 (Shuster v. McCormick), live on NBCSN & live online
10:30 p.m., women’s playoff #2 replay, NBCSN