Nina Roth couldn’t have picked a worse time to become the only competitor in the women’s U.S. Curling Team Trials to commit a line violation.
Leading 5-4 in the ninth end of the decisive Game 3, Roth held her stone a touch too long before letting it go, and that led to a deuce for Team Sinclair, giving it a 6-5 lead heading to the last end at Baxter Arena.
But shot errors that plagued skip Jamie Sinclair’s squad over the last three days of the tournament finally took their toll in the 10th end as Team Roth completed an improbable 7-6 comeback win to seal its bid as the U.S. representative in the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.
Roth said her teammates helped keep her spirits up after the line gaffe.
“I was heartbroken. My heart dropped in my stomach, and I just got hot. And it was already a bad end to begin with,” said the 29-year-old from McFarland, Wisconsin.
“But my teammates were fantastic. We got in a huddle, took a deep breath together and said, ‘We’ve got this.’ ”
Team Sinclair, the 2017 women’s national and Continental Cup champions, had a chance to score in the 10th with two rocks in the house.
But Roth Vice Skip Tabitha Peterson executed a double takeout to put Roth back in position to strike.
Sinclair Vice Skip Alex Carlson followed with a miss that eliminated a Team Sinclair stone, and an ensuing overshot by Sinclair on her last rock left two Roth scoring stones in the house and a hammer shot remaining.
That prompted a concession by Team Sinclair, ending its Olympic dreams.
Roth said she didn’t recognize her team was already in position for two points and the win when she prepared to deliver the final shot.
“I was in disbelief when Tabitha told me,” she said. “I put the broom down. I was ready to go throw my next shot. I only had a minute and 15 seconds to do it.
“And then she told me, ‘Nina, we’re one and two,’ and it just slowly sank in. It probably looked funny on my face.”
An emotional 25-year-old Sinclair admitted afterward she didn’t have her best day and that nerves got the best of her.
“It wasn’t my best performance,” Sinclair said. “We were able to make a comeback in that game. We had a chance. It was definitely some nerves. It’s normal, and I think nerves to a certain degree is a good thing.
“If I wasn’t nervous, then I wouldn’t care as much.”
Roth said the eight-day tournament was an emotional one but the team must quickly turn its eyes toward preparations for its first Olympics in 82 days.
“This has definitely been an intense week. There’s a lot of emotions on the line,” Roth said.
“I was talking to the NBC broadcaster, and she asked me what would it be like to go to the Olympics, and I said it would mean everything to me. This is what I’ve worked for since I was 10 years old.”
Peterson also was trying to let the feeling of representing the United States resonate after the medal ceremony.
“There are no words. It still doesn’t feel totally real yet,” Peterson said.
Sinclair ... 021 000 012 0—6
Roth ....... 200 201 000 2—7