February 6, 2018 / 8:05 AM / 10 months ago

Curling: Team USA's Hamiltons keep sibling rivalry on ice

PYEONGCHANG (Reuters) - Ask brother-sister team mates Matt and Becca Hamilton which one is the alpha personality on their U.S. mixed doubles Olympic curling team and they are both likely to raise their hands.

Feb 6, 2018; PyeongChang, KOR; Team USA curling members Matt Hamilton and Becca Hamilton speak during a press conference in advance of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games. Mandatory Credit: Andrew P. Scott-USA TODAY Sports

But Matt eventually concedes that Becca really just likes to let him think he is in charge.

“Here’s the way I think it happens,” Matt said at a news conference in Pyeongchang on Tuesday ahead of this month’s Winter Olympics.

“I think I call most of the shots but Becca just lets me do that because most of the time we agree. When she really disagrees, she gets the ultimate veto power.

“So 90 percent of the time I feel like I am the alpha, but I think deep down she knows she’s ...”

“Reverse psychology,” Becca piped in, speaking over the end of his sentence. “I let him think he’s the alpha.”

Whatever their chemistry, it appears to be working.

The Wisconsin natives are the U.S. national champions in mixed doubles curling, one of four new events being introduced at the Feb. 9-25 Games in South Korea.

They finished 10th at the 2017 curling world championships and earned the United States a berth in Pyeongchang.

In addition to their bid in the mixed event, Becca, 27, and Matt, 28, will be curling for the U.S. women’s and men’s teams.

They realize they face a tough path to earn a spot on the podium but contend the “volatile” nature of mixed doubles - a faster game than the traditional four-player, single-sex version - means it is an open field.

“The game style in general kind of opens it up for other countries, and obviously this being the first one, we feel like we’ve got a chance to win,” Matt said. “But we know how difficult that’s going to be.”

Coming into the Olympics, the World Curling Federation ranks Canada as the top team in the world followed by Switzerland and China. The United States is ranked eighth and opens up competition on Thursday against fourth-ranked Russia.

That first match could be billed as a ‘family feud’ of sorts as the Russian pair - Anastasia Bryzgalova and Alexander Krushelnitskiy - are married.

Asked which of the family ties was stronger - the bond of brother and sister or husband and wife - Matt had no hesitation: “Definitely the sibling bond: I can’t divorce my sister.”

Editing by Peter Rutherford

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