It’s always fun to hear about local athletes getting a chance to compete on the biggest sporting stage in the world. The 2018 Winter Olympics begin on Thursday, and there is a bit of Wisconsin-connected talent participating in the Games this year.
Milwaukee Admirals forward Bobby Butler is competing for the U.S men's hockey team, while Delafield native and former Wisconsin Badgers goalie (2010-14) Alex Rigsby is on the women’s hockey squad. And then there are curlers Becca and Matt Hamilton, siblings from McFarland who you’ll want to cheer for over the next few weeks.
Before the PyeongChang games start, here are five things you should know about the Hamiltons:
1. They’re our first mixed doubles curling team
For 2018, the Olympics introduced mixed doubles curling. And, besides competing at the games separately as siblings, the Hamiltons also qualified as the first-ever U.S mixed doubles curling team. Matt, 28, is competing with the U.S men, 27-year-old Becca is on the U.S women team and they will be competing together on the mixed doubles team.
2. Their road to PyeongChang wasn’t easy
While the category of mixed doubles is new to the winter games, the sport has held a world championship since 2008. Last year, the Hamiltons competed as partners in two prestigious tournaments – the 2017 World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship and the 2017 United States Mixed Doubles Curling Olympic Trials. The Hamiltons got off to a hot start in this year’s world championship, going 7-0 in the group stage before facing stiffer competition in the playoffs, where finished 10th out of 16 teams. At the Olympic trials, the duo went 5-2 in the group stage, and then won their historic Olympic bid on the final throw of their championship match.
3. We could be seeing a lot of them
While the opening ceremony for the PyeongChang games starts on Friday, the mixed doubles competition will begin a day earlier. And, starting tonight, there’s a chance – albeit a small one – that the Hamiltons compete daily during these Olympics. If they’re able to make it to the gold medal match in mixed doubles, as well as in their respective team competitions, the Hamiltons will have curled every day of the 2018 Olympics. The mixed doubles competition ends on Feb. 13, men’s and women’s curling begins on Feb. 14, with both concluding the last day of the games on Feb. 25. Here’s to nonstop curling for the Wisconsinites!
4. Matt’s got unique style
In an interview with NBC Sports, Matt described the work he puts into looking fresh on the ice. "I’ve been wearing purple high top Jordans all season," he said. "I do my own little thing to make it my own. Little bit of glue, Velcro and a lot of love. … Sometimes it takes a little maintenance, but for the most part they hold up pretty good and it works out." Pair those shoes with his killer mustache and you’ve got one stylish curler.
5. Their relationship is important
The siblings anticipate their close relationship being to their advantage in competition. Matt Hamilton said in that NBC Sports interview that they don’t have to sugarcoat anything with each other, while Becca similarly described the benefits of the brother-sister dynamic. "It’s different than playing with the girls I normally play with," she said. "My brother’s a little more honest, blunt about missing shots."
Best of luck to Wisconsin’s sibling curlers at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, and be sure to check out OnMilwaukee’s guide to watching the games on TV so you don't miss them.