Who is Nina Roth?
Nina Roth, the skip of the U.S. Olympic women’s curling team, led her rink to fifth place at the 2017 World Championships and will be making her Olympic debut in PyeongChang.
Roth was born on July 21st, 1988 in McFarland, Wisconsin. Her father was a recreational curler, and she said that her earliest curling memory is watching her dad play and receiving a curling pin from Steve Brown, an Olympic coach whose children, Erika and Craig, both curled at the Winter Games.
She didn’t start playing herself until she was 10 years old. She went with her Girl Scout troop, which was led by Roth’s mother, on an outing to the McFarland Curling Club.
“I loved it and signed up for junior league immediately,” she said. “My father curled recreationally when my brother and I were younger, but when I showed interest he started curling again as well. Eventually, my whole family was curling. If you went to the curling club, the Spatolas were there!”
She was inspired to try to become an elite curler when the U.S. Olympic Trials for the 2006 Torino Winter Games were held in her hometown.
“That was the first time I'd seen an event of that caliber up close,” she said. “I was in awe of all the female curlers, and how they carried themselves on and off the ice. I knew I wanted to compete at this level.”
Before Roth became the skip of her own rink, she played third on Erika Brown’s team. They won the U.S. national championship title in 2010, which qualified them to compete at that year’s world championships. Team Brown nearly made the playoffs, but finished fifth after losing the tiebreaker game at the end of the round-robin stage.
After playing on the world stage for the first time, Roth was determined that it wouldn’t be the last.
“We played well as a team [at the 2010 Worlds], and I was able to thrive under the pressure,” she said. “Since then I knew I had to keep playing at that level!”
But she also was determined to start skipping her own team. When her junior coach suggested she try it for the first time, she wasn't sure it would be right for her.
"I wasn’t really interested in skipping," Roth said. "It was something that my coach recognized I could be good at, and so he had me try it and I fell in love."
Roth started playing with Becca Hamilton for the 2013-14 season, and in 2016 formed her current rink with Tabitha Peterson and Aileen Geving. The four women were joined together at the suggestion of USA Curling’s High Performance Program.
Roth said when the team was first formed, "it was really a quick fit because we had all played together at some point or another. We all knew each other and knew that each of us was just as dedicated as the next. So it was going to be a good fit."
In their first season together, Team Roth won silver at the 2017 U.S. National Championships behind Jamie Sinclair’s rink. Due to points Team Roth had accumulated at earlier competitions, they earned the U.S. berth at the 2017 World Championships.
At the 2017 Worlds, Roth again just missed the four-team playoffs by finishing fifth.
"It definitely made us hungry for more," Roth said of their performance at Worlds. "Looking back at the week we were really pleased with how we played, but knew that we were only a few ends, a few wins, a few shots away from qualifying [for the four-team playoffs] and possibly getting a medal for the U.S."
Neither Roth nor any of her teammates have prior Olympic experience. They’ll look to improve on the results of the last two U.S. Olympic women’s curling teams—both finished tenth out of ten teams at the 2010 and 2014 Winter Games.
Olympic Trials highlights
Team Roth was the top ranked team at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for curling, which took place in Nov. 2017 in Omaha, Nebraska. In the round-robin again, Roth earned a 4-2 record with both of their losses coming in matches against Team Sinclair.
Sinclair and Roth faced off again in the playoffs, which had a best-of-three format. The two teams proved to be very evenly matched, with Roth winning game 1, Sinclair winning game 2, and both games going to extra ends.
In the third and final game, Roth made a major mistake in the ninth end: she failed to let go of her final stone before it crossed the hogline, which took the stone out of play and allowed Team Sinclair to take the lead going into the tenth end.
But Roth and her teammates regained their composure and scored two in the extra end, securing both the win and the Olympic berth.
“Every decision I've made since I can remember revolves around curling and my desire to accomplish my goals. From college to my job, how I hang out with my friends, how long I stay out at night or what I eat or drink. I've tried to live every day thinking, what I have done today to help me towards my goals?” – Nina Roth
Off the ice
Roth is a registered nurse in Madison, Wis. and said outside of curling, nursing is the other great passion of her life. She balances the two with help from her supervisors, who she said are “very supportive of my curling career. They let me arrange my work schedule around my curling events.” Roth also often works 12-hour shifts three days a week so she can fit in workouts and practices.
Roth has been married to Troy Roth since 2014. She formerly competed under her maiden name, Nina Spatola. The Roths have two cats, Lea and Lady.