No Sibling Rivalry For Curling Teammates Tabitha And Tara Peterson
by Bob Reinert
Tara and Tabitha Peterson compete alongside their teammates at the curling event. Photo courtesy of USA Curling - WCF/Steve Seixeiro
Sibling rivalries can be intense, but sisters Tabitha and Tara Peterson have most often bonded as teammates over the years.
Team Peterson — with Tabitha as the skip and Tara at lead, along with Nina Roth, Becca Hamilton and Aileen Geving — enters the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Curling in Omaha, Nebraska, as the women’s division favorite. The trials will take place Nov. 12-21 at Baxter Arena.
“We expect to win,” Tara said. “We still need to perform. We still need to grind it out. Everyone’s going to play their best against us, and we have to expect that.”
Team Peterson could play 13 games in Omaha, 10 in the double round-robin tournament and three in the finals, or even more if any tiebreakers are necessary.
“It’s going to be a long week,” Tara said. “Our goal is to get on the podium at the Olympics, as well. We got bronze at the worlds last year, 2020, so we know we’re right up there with the best in the world. So, we can hopefully get a medal.
“We’re playing well. We just need to keep it rolling.”
The Peterson sisters were born in the St. Paul suburb of Burnsville, Minnesota, and grew up with the game in one of the country’s biggest hotbeds of curling.
“Our grandpa is the one in our family that was the curler up in the Iron Range,” Tabitha recalled. “My parents joined a league, and then they got us involved, too.”
The Petersons joined the junior program at the St. Paul Curling Club, but they also played other sports.
“We were active in many sports,” Tara said. “We played soccer, softball. Tab played soccer in high school. I ran cross country. And then we both are big golfers, as well. So, that was our spring sport.”
After high school, the focus was all on curling. Since then, the Petersons have become forces to be reckoned with on the national and world scenes. Tabitha was a member of the U.S. women’s team, that also included Roth, Hamilton and Geving, that placed eighth at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.
Tabitha, 32, moved into the women’s ranks first. That was when they stopped being teammates for the first time. There was another break when Tara, 30, attended the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry.
Spurred on by their parents — their father is a dentist, their mother a dental hygienist — the Petersons both went into health care. Tabitha is a pharmacist.
“I love to say our parents brainwashed us,” said Tara, adding that her parents told them about the job stability in health care. “Then the pandemic hit. Who are essential workers? A pharmacist is, but a dentist is not. I was like, are you kidding me? You told me I would always have a job.”
The sisters have found ways to balance their professional lives with curling competitions and training. Tabitha picks up fewer shifts during the season and makes up for it during the summer. Tara works three days a week and trains on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
“Everybody has been very helpful and encouraging and supportive,” said Tara, “which is huge.”
Through it all, Tabitha and Tara have remained close.
“It kind of depends on the relationship that you have with your sibling, but ours is good,” Tabitha said. “We’re friends off the ice, and we hang out on weekends, and we have a kind of similar group of friends.
“We kind of know what to expect out of each other, and it’s nice to be able to train together because we both live in the same area. And if one of us is bothering the other, it’s easy to just be like, ‘Shut up!’ You don’t take it as personally because our relationship is so close.”
Tabitha said the two sisters strive to stay close with their other teammates, also.
“It’s pretty easy with the group that we have right now,” Tabitha said. “We’ve been playing together since even before the 2018 Games. Curling is a very small community, anyway. We all do know each other very well.”
The trials’ round-robin games will be web streamed on NBCOlympics.com and on the NBC Sports App. NBCSN will broadcast the best-of-three finals.
“Every time curling is on TV, we get kind of new followers and just more interest in the game,” Tara said. “After every Olympics, new curling clubs are popping up throughout the country. It’s amazing growth for the sport. The more publicity, the more TV time we can get, is awesome.”