The women's curling team skipped by Nina Roth won the final match of the U.S. Olympic Curling Trials, bringing their playoff record against Jamie Sinclair's team to 2-1 and earning a spot on Team USA for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.
Team Roth won 7-6 over Team Sinclair, the reigning national champions. Team Sinclair had the upper hand in the round-robin round, where they won two out of three of their head-to-head matches. But Team Roth was ultimately the better rink in the playoffs; they won the first match 6-5 in extra ends, and nearly missed wrapping the series up yesterday afternoon when they lost 7-6, again in extra ends.
29-year-old Roth and her teammates, vice skip Tabitha Peterson, second Aileen Geving and lead Becca Hamilton, held the lead for much of today's game. But Team Sinclair pulled ahead in the ninth when Roth made a massive mistake by releasing her final stone too late. That stone was removed from play, and Sinclair was able to steal two points for a one point lead.
In the tenth and final end, it was Sinclair's mistake that made the difference. With her final throw, Sinclair nudged one of Roth's stones away from the button but her own stone rolled even further. With two of Roth's stones sitting closest to the center of the house, they were guaranteed enough points for victory.
No members of Roth's rink have previous Olympic experience. They did represent the U.S. at the 2017 World Women's Curling Championships, where they finished fifth.
All of them will need to take time away from their day jobs to play in the 2018 Winter Olympics: Roth is a registered nurse at a hospital in Madison, Wis., Peterson is a pharmacist at a CVS Pharmacy, Geving is an account executive at an insurance agency and Hamilton is a sales associate at a sporting goods store.
Roth's team will aim to improve on the underwhelming past Olympic performances of the U.S. women's curling teams, who finished last at the previous two Winter Games.
Earlier in the year, Geving told NBC Olympics that she's long used the U.S. women's lack of Olympic success--they've never won a medal--as motivation. Since she's been a junior curler, she said, she was inspired to train hard "from watching some other teams fail at the Olympics in the sport of curling. I have always watched others and thought, 'I can do that, I might even be able to do that better.'"
The final game of the women's playoffs will air tonight on tape delay at 10:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
The match that will determine which men's team joins Roth's rink at the Olympics will take place at 7:30 p.m. ET and air live on NBCSN, as well as livestreamed on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.
A trip to the zoo and a piece of errant ice led to victory for John Shuster's rink in the second playoff game at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for curling.
After last night's loss to Heath McCormick's rink, Shuster and his teammates, Matt Hamilton, Tyler George, John Landsteiner and Joe Polo regrouped by visiting Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo before tonight's game in the best-of-three playoff series that will determine which team represents the U.S. at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
George told NBC Sports' Trenni Kusnierek that their new approach was to "try your best to act like you would in a league game." They were also determined to live up to their reputation as the team to beat, because, George said, "when we carry ourselves like we own the sheet, like we're the best team in the country, that's how we play."
It worked, and Team Shuster grabbed an early lead when they scored three in the second end, and stayed in front of McCormick until the ninth end.
With Team Shuster placing three stones in the house in addition to holding the hammer, McCormick needed his last stone to roll perfectly if he wanted to stay within striking distance of Shuster's score. But as his rock moved down the sheet of ice, it rolled over a small piece of debris on the ice and was thrown off course. Shuster was able to place his final rock into the house to claim four points and earn a score of 9-4. Knowing that they wouldn't be able to make up that deficit in the tenth and final end, Team McCormick conceded.
"That's the ugly part of our sport," Shuster said of their rivals misfortune on the ice, "but it's unavoidable and there's never been redo's in curling."
Shuster is already a three-time Olympian, and won a bronze medal alongside Polo at the 2006 Winter Olympics. Landsteiner was also on Shuster's rink at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
The sole member of McCormick's rink with Olympic experience is Chris Plys. Plys was an alternate for the team skipped by Shuster at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
With the men's playoff series now tied at 1-1, the team that wins tomorrow's final game will qualify for the Olympics. The match will be held at 7:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast live on NBCSN as well as livestreamed on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.
The women's playoff series is also even after Jamie Sinclair won this afternoon's match against Nina Roth. Team Sinclair and Team Roth will compete for the Olympic berth tomorrow at 11 a.m. ET.
Skip Jamie Sinclair's rink kept their Olympic hopes alive with a win today in the second of three playoff matches at the U.S. Olympic Curling Trials. After losing the first game by one point to the team skipped by Nina Roth, another loss would mean Roth, Tabitha Peterson, Aileen Geving and Becca Hamilton were heading to PyeongChang and Team Sinclair would have to wait another four years for a shot at the Winter Games.
But instead Sinclair and her teammates, Alex Carlson, Vicky Persinger and Monica Walker, battled through 11 ends to win 7-6 and force the playoff series to a third game.
Team Sinclair built up a 6-4 lead through the first nine ends before giving up two points to Roth in the tenth. In the extra end, Sinclair has the last-stone advantage known as the hammer, which she successfully used to score the game-winning point.
It's no surprise that the playoff matches between the top two U.S. women's teams have been so fiercely contested. Both rinks are in their second season together and were formed at the suggestion of USA Curling's High Performance Program. At the end of last season, Sinclair won over Roth to take gold at the 2017 U.S. National Championships. But based on points accumulated over previous games, Roth earned the spot for the U.S. at the 2017 World Championships. Roth's rink had a solid showing there, and finished fifth.
This season, both rinks are ranked in the top 20 on the World Curling Tour, with Sinclair ranked 16th and Roth four spots ahead in 12th.
When they faced off earlier this week during the round-robin round, Team Sinclair was the victor in two of their three head-to-head matches.
Today's game will air tape-delayed on NBCSN tonight at 10:30 p.m. ET, and the third and final game of the women's playoff series can be watched live tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. ET on NBCSports.com or the NBC Sports app.
In the men's playoff series, the team skipped by Heath McCormick grabbed victory over John Shuster's rink in their first game yesterday. They'll play again tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET. If McCormick wins again, his team will qualify for the Olympics and snap the Olympic streak of Shuster, who's played in the last three Winter Games. If Shuster's rink wins, the playoffs will go to a third game tomorrow night.
Name: Max Parrot
Disciplines: Slopestyle, Big Air
2016/17 WST slopestyle ranking: 5th
2016/17 WST big air ranking: 1st
Fresh off a slopestyle victory at X Games, Parrot's stock was high at the 2014 Olympics. Expected to earn a medal and possibly contend for gold, Parrot had one of the day's biggest tricks — a backside triple cork 1620 — in his final run but still finished off the podium in fifth place.
Parrot has already clinched a provisional spot on the deep Canadian Olympic slopestyle and big air team. He's one of the top riders in big air, which makes its Olympic debut in 2018, and will be a gold-medal contender because of tricks like the quad underflip, which he was the first to ever land in a competition. His slopestyle results historically haven't been quite as strong, but he remains a podium threat in that discipline as well. Norwegian snowboarder Marcus Kleveland and Canadian teammate Mark McMorris will be two of his biggest challengers in both events.
Parrot is one of the riders at the forefront of "plus-one progression" — that is, adding an extra rotation or an extra flip to the biggest tricks being done — in big air. On multiple occasions, he has been the first rider to land a particular trick. During the X Games big air contest in 2017, he unleashed his two heaviest tricks to-date — a switch quad underflip and a cab triple cork 1800 — but is constantly trying to take things another step further.
The son of a former Alpine skier, Parrot grew up near the Bromont ski area in Quebec and was on the slopes as a kid. Though he originally started off on skis, he decided at age 9 that he wanted to try snowboarding, so he moved lawns in his neighborhood that following summer in order to earn enough money to buy his first board. Years later, when the prospect of a competitive career in the sport began to arise, he borrowed $20,000 from his parents in order to pay for his international travel and contest entry fees. The investment paid off, as Parrot was then able to use his prize winnings to repay his parents.
It seems like there's a new, never-been-done trick from Parrot each season. He was the first to land a triple cork in a slopestyle contest (2013), the first to land back-to-back triple corks in a slopestyle run (2014), the first to land a cab triple cork 1800 in a competition (2016) and the first to land a quad underflip in a competition (2017). Outside of competition, he also became the first to land a double backside rodeo 1440 in 2016.
2016/17 season recap
Throughout the winter, Parrot battled with Canadian teammate Mark McMorris for big air supremacy. Though McMorris emerged with a few wins of his own, Parrot topped the podium at a number of events, most notably at X Games when he unveiled the switch quad underflip, and rode away with the World Snowboard Tour season title. Parrot also had some strong showings in slopestyle, winning the Laax Open (ahead of McMorris) and finishing second at Dew Tour (behind McMorris).
Off the snow
Outside of snowboarding, Parrot's other favorite sports include golf, wakeboarding and mountain biking.