United States' Roth draws strength from nursing career

  • © WCF / Richard Gray

Whatever happens at the Gangneung Curling Centre over the next week, United States skip Nina ROTH will not be one to struggle for perspective.

Despite two defeats in their opening three games, her career as an acute care nurse provides her with a unique ability to put curling in its proper context.

"My life means I've had times when I've been standing on the podium one day, and then the next day I'm cleaning out a wound and helping someone go to the bathroom," Roth said. "It's not that glamorous but it helps you realise that it's just a game."

Roth's job involves providing long-term care for patients who have suffered life-changing injuries.

"We look after the patients who are no longer in a life-or-death situation, but they have to adjust to their new way of living. So we deal with a lot of people with spinal-cord injuries and we help them learn how to mobilise in a wheelchair. Or people who have suffered respiratory failure and we're weaning them off ventilators.

"They can be with us for a year or more, so I really get to know them and they get to know me. It's pretty intense and emotional, but it's also a passion.

"I wouldn't be the same person if I didn't have curling, and I wouldn't be the same athlete if I didn't have nursing to go back to."

While Roth admits that competing at the Olympic Winter Games was a childhood dream, she said she reached a point before the United States' Olympic team trials last November when her experiences as a nurse allowed her to relax and accept whatever happened in the competition.

"There's been moments when I've been working with a patient, and it's just made me realise how fortunate I am to have the physical health to play a sport that I love, and reminded me that some people don't have that opportunity.

"While I'm still chasing the dream, I always knew that I'd be OK if we didn't win the trials, and the same here, because I still have a positive career, a family life, and that's allowed me to just let loose on the ice."

article provided by the Olympic Information Service