John Shuster and the U.S. Curling Team Win First Gold Medal
7th End: Sweden’s Edin Feeling the Pressure
Niklas Edin, the finest curler in the world, appears to be feeling that Olympic pressure. After another huge miss with his first shot of the seventh end, he bounced back to save a point for Sweden with the hammer, tying the score. But the United States is in great shape, with the hammer heading to the eighth — and on track to have it in the 10th.
John Shuster is more than deserving of the accolades he’s gotten during this bonspiel (curling talk for tournament), but his teammates have been outstanding. Matt Hamilton, the mustachioed social media hero for the Americans, executed a brilliant double takeout in the middle of the seventh end. And Tyler George, whose shots set up Shuster at the back of each end, has been one of the sharpest players on the ice.
Devin Heroux: Curling is one of few sports where adrenaline can be a bad thing — curlers have to calm their nerves and settle down before throwing big shots. Right now it looks like this young Swedish team is letting their nerves and adrenaline get the better of them. They are missing routine shots. Edin said that was his one concern, that they would let the pressure of the moment get to them.
Edin, however, has been here before in these pressure games and made one of the more remarkable shots of the Olympic tournament to score a single in the 7th end. It’s a shot that might have saved the game for his team. But Shuster’s team looks calm and confident with three ends left to decide this gold medal game.
8th End: Americans Pile on Five Points
John Shuster just nailed the most important shot in American curling history: a double takeout for five points and a seemingly insurmountable lead for the Americans entering the ninth end. The gold is all but theirs. The crowd is going bananas.
Devin Heroux: The Americans have been putting pressure on Sweden the entire game. You could see it and sense it in the building. The pressure was on and in the 8th end Sweden cracked.
A massive score of five in the 8th end by the United States has all but sealed this victory for a team that was once in jeopardy of missing the Olympic curling playoffs all together. It is a remarkable story about how this Shuster team never stopped believing and are now narrowing in on the country’s first gold medal in curling.
9th End: Sweden Gets Two Back
The United States, playing conservatively, gave up two to Sweden here in the ninth end, but still has a 10-7 lead (and the hammer) entering the 10th and final end. It would take a meltdown of intergalactic proportions for John Shuster & Co. to lose this match.
Devin Heroux: John Shuster has curled for a very long time. He’s had some serious low points throughout his career. But he never stopped playing the game he loves. He has kids now. He talks about them often and how different his perspective is in life and curling.
This is his moment now. He’s a few rocks away from being the first-ever Olympic curling champion from the United States, alongside his team.
10th End: Sweden Goes Down Quietly
Devin Heroux: It is one of the more improbable comebacks in the history of curling — and perhaps sports.
Team Shuster was on the ropes and seemingly down and out at the Olympics. With a 2-4 record and three games left in the tournament, Shuster couldn’t afford to lose another game. The team got on a roll and started believing they could win it all. That belief propelled them to wins over the Canadian curling juggernauts and then over the number one ranked team in the world, Sweden, to capture Olympic gold.
It’s a historic win. The country’s first. But how they did it is even more incredible.