When John Shuster applied to the U.S. high performance programme following the Sochi Olympics, he was already a three-time Olympian and the most successful American curling in history.
US Men’s Curling Team Looks Like Dads
In order to get into the programme that gives money to the most promising teams, they won the U.S. championship and beat out the teams who had been chosen to get it. They qualified for the Pyeongchang Olympics by taking home bronze at the world championships, another national title, and coming in first at the U.S. Olympic trials.
For Shuster, who is competing in his fourth Olympics, a second straight win over Canada on Friday guaranteed at least a silver medal. On Saturday, the United States’ Shuster, Hamilton, Tyler George, and John Landsteiner team will take on Sweden for the gold.
After eliminating the three-time reigning champions in the semi-finals, Shuster mused, “It’s a very wonderful narrative.” A further development, as it were.
Shuster, now a 35-year-old father of two from Minnesota, was the lead for Pete Fenson’s team, at the age of 23, when they won the bronze medal in 2006. Before Sunday, that gold medal was the sole Olympic victory for American curling.
But Shuster ditched them to start a new team where he would play the pivotal role of skip, responsible for tossing the final and most crucial stones. World University Games gold was won on the same rink in Pinerolo, Italy, as the Olympic bronze medal game.
Four years later, Shuster returned to the Olympics only to have such poor performance that he was forced to be benched.
The Americans Finished Last.
‘I missed four last shots to win three games early and basically pulled us out of the competition,’ he claimed.
Shuster took a year off as skip but was back in charge the following season. They won the trials to compete in Sochi, but after another disappointing showing (2-7 in pool play) they finished last out of the 10 teams.
In an effort to remedy the country’s Olympic failures, fourteen men auditioned for the high performance programme. (The American ladies) came in dead last for the second year in a row. All ten men would be divided into two teams of five (plus an alternate) and given funds to prepare for and participate in tournaments.
We lost Shuster, Hamilton, and Landsteiner. George Decided not to Audition.
The foursome took pride in being an underdog team, earning the nickname “Team of Rejects,” and used it as motivation.
After giving it a year to prove itself, they abandoned it.
After three trips to the World Cup, “they don’t call you rejects any more,” George noted.
Landsteiner and Joe Polo, the alternate, made it to the Olympics for the second time, while Hamilton and George did so for the first time.
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