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USA Curling

Shuster rink headed to 2010 Games

March 02, 2009, 10:40 a.m. (ET)
BROOMFIELD, Colo. (Feb. 28, 2009) - Although John Shuster already has won Olympic bronze, he's always dreamed of skipping a team to the gold medal. He'll have that chance now in Vancouver after winning tonight's men's final at the 2010 U.S. Olympic Team Trials.

"I'm really, really excited," Shuster said. "I've been at the Olympics already once. I know exactly what we're in for. I'm unbelievably excited for my teammates. They carried me through the first half of this week. They held on just long enough for me to come around so we could maybe win this thing."

Shuster (Duluth, Minn.) and teammates Jason Smith (Cape Coral, Fla.), Jeff Isaacson (Gilbert, Minn.) and John Benton (St. Michael, Minn.) will now wear Team USA at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, British Columbia, after defeating Tyler George's team, 10-9, in front of 1,600 fans at the Broomfield Event Center.

"All week long we tried not to think about the big picture," said Isaacson, who works as a school teacher in northern Minnesota. "But in the back of your mind you can't help but think about this moment."

It was an ending, however, that George will probably replay in his head more than once. Given the opportunity to draw for two points to send the game into an extra end, George would come up just short of the rings with his final stone.

"There's no excuse. I just didn't make it," George said. "It's a shot I'll make 99 times out of 100. I don't know why that one time, was the time I didn't get it."

It was an up-and-down game highlighted by huge swings in momentum in this high-scoring affair. George (Duluth, Minn.) and teammates Kris Perkovich (Chisholm, Minn.), Kevin Johnson (Duluth, Minn.) and Mark Haluptzok (Bemidji, Minn.) appeared to be the front-runner early on. Tied 1-1 after two ends, George's team struck big when Shuster missed his runback attempt and George made his final draw for three points.

Shuster got his team right back in it though in the following end with a draw for four points. Shuster's team would steal a single then in the fifth when George was light trying to draw to the button. Trailing now 6-4, George's team brushed off the faux pas and hung another three points on the scoreboard when Shuster couldn't convert a double takeout, allowing George to make a soft takeout to take the lead.

The teams exchanged singles over the next two ends with Shuster taking the lead for good in the ninth end when he got an opportunity to draw for three after George missed both stones on his double takeout attempt.

"It's a skip's job, if his team isn't playing really well, to pick them up and make a shot," George said. "We needed them, and I didn't make any today. That was it."

"Regardless of how many years we've been playing together, how long we've been playing together, I thought we were the best team here. I still think we were the best team here," George said.

The Shuster rink will now be nominated to the U.S. Olympic Committee as members of Team USA for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. They'll head to Moncton, New Brunswick, in April to represent the U.S. at the 2009 World Men's Championship.

Line score:
George* 103 003 010 1 9
Shuster 010 410 103 0 10

USA Curling is sponsored by Kodiak Technology Group, AIT Worldwide Logistics and Nike.
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