Team USA captain Tabitha Peterson loses her voice – NBC New York
Tabitha Peterson battles a delicate and troublesome injury as she tries to guide the US women’s curling team to the Olympic medal round.
The American captain loses her voice – a significant problem when much of your job is to shout instructions to your teammates at the far end of the 146ft (44.5m) patch of ice.
“Sorry. You’re stuck with me,” said Tara Peterson, who stood in for her sister/teammate when speaking to reporters in the mixed zone after a round-robin match. But we still have to save his voice.
In addition to delivering the most important last stones in each set, the skip is also the captain of a team of four and has the final say on all strategic decisions.
Typically, skips stay close to the target area, or home, and yell to their hack teammates to discuss the plan and ultimately call the shots. Once the stone is on its way, the dumpster will yell – often loudly and insistently – at the sweepers to brush harder in an attempt to guide the stone along the ice.
“It’s really difficult when someone doesn’t have their voice,” said Britain’s second Jennifer Dodds. “I think for the skip it’s the worst. And because you’re obviously so used to communication, as a sweeper you probably just have to use hand gestures like that.
Baseball coaches use an elaborate system of ear tugs and stomach rubs to send signals to the batter. Football coaches have a direct connection to the quarterback’s helmet – and they always cover their mouths when talking, lest there be a lip-reader on the other team.
But curling has few secrets. For one thing, teams alternate throwing rocks, so even when opponents know the plan, they can’t do anything but wait their turn.
The solution – most of the time – is simply to shout the instructions on the ice. But this week, Tabitha Peterson resorts to hand gestures, waving her teammates on or off the broom as the stone slides towards the target.
Tara Peterson said the biggest change is that sweepers have to look up at the dumpster when it beckons – pushing with her hands to sweep harder or crossing them in front of her to stop.
“Tab is struggling to get his voice back, but we all know where we need to get it back,” said American second Becca Hamilton, who handled mixed zone duties after a previous round-robin game. “It’s not the first time this has happened.”
Team USA lost to Sweden 10-4 in women’s curling
In Beijing, Tabitha Peterson showed signs of trouble for the first time on Saturday when she walked through the mixed zone with a cup of special throat tea. His voice was hoarse.
Hamilton took care of media duties – another of the captain’s responsibilities – but Peterson briefly stopped on Sunday to report that she was feeling a little better. She carried her cup of tea again and still spoke with a bit of a hoarseness.
His sister took over for reporters after an 8-6 win over defending silver medalist South Korea on Monday. Tara Peterson said it was common for her sister to lose her voice, but it usually doesn’t happen until later in the competition. (When the U.S. captain started getting hoarse, she had five round-robin games left just to make the playoffs.)
“We’re used to it,” Tara Peterson said. “She loses her voice a lot. She has this special Throat Coat tea that she uses, but we just rely on a lot of hand signals and looking up and a lot of non-verbal communication.
Matt Hamilton explains how curling works with Legos.
The Americans snapped a two-game losing streak and improved to 4-2 – tied for second place – with the win over South Korea; five wins from nine games could be enough to reach the semi-finals, and six would certainly clinch a spot.
In Monday’s other women’s matches, Sweden handed top-placed Switzerland their first loss; Japan split, beating China and losing to South Korea, and tied for second with the United States and Sweden; and Canada won twice, beating Great Britain and Russia to join Great Britain and South Korea at 3-3.
In the men’s first session on Tuesday, the Americans beat Switzerland 7-4 to take fourth place — a position that would have earned them a berth in the medal round. John Shuster’s quartet still have games to play against the bottom two teams in the standings, Italy and Denmark.
Defending silver medalists Sweden (7-0) remained undefeated with an 8-3 victory over Denmark. Great Britain (5-1) is second and Canada (5-2) beat China 10-8 to retain third place.