When it comes to Olympic Team Trials, John Shuster (Duluth, Minn.) only knows how to win. The two-time Olympian began his quest for a third straight Olympic appearance by earning a 10-4 victory tonight at Scheels Arena over Washington's Brady Clark rink as the second draw of action at the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Curling concluded.
"It's huge to win your first game because you start out ahead rather than trying to play catch up. It was definitely, I thought, more of a challenge for us out there," Shuster said. "Those guys had a game under their belt so we had to figure out what weights were doing what and that kind of thing. We really struggled early with hitting, but as the game went along we kind of tightened it up."
Shuster and his team of Jeff Isaacson (Gilbert, Minn.), Jared Zezel (Duluth, Minn.), and John Landsteiner (Duluth, Minn.) shot 82 percent as a team to defeat the reigning men's national champions. Clark's team only had a modest 1-0 lead to begin the game as Shuster's rink took control thereafter by limiting their opponents' offense and capitalizing on key mistakes.
"He [Clark] flashed three takeouts in those early ends and when you get those breaks you have to try and run with them. As they were creeping back into the game we thought maybe we didn't run far enough but we kept the pressure on and hopefully caught a little break and caught one in the eighth end," said Shuster, 31.
Tyler George's Minnesota rink bounced back from an earlier loss to even their record to 1-1 with a convincing 9-4 win over 2006 Olympian Pete Fenson (Bemidji, Minn.). George and teammates Chris Plys (Duluth, Minn.), Rich Ruohonen (Minneapolis, Minn.), and Colin Hufman (Seattle) took a 4-1 advantage after scoring three points in the fourth end. After Fenson's team was limited to a single in the fifth, George's team settled in and protected the lead. The eighth end quickly turned in favor of Team George as they set themselves up to score four points to seal their first win.
"It was kind of a grind. There were a couple mistakes here and there from both teams throughout. The sheet was a little trickier than the one we played earlier today, but I thought we made good adjustments throughout the game, made big shots when we needed to and it wasn't one of those games where everyone was going to put up 95 percent and goes down the wire. It was a matter of who was going to make a big shot at the right time," George, 31, said after the win.
The third draw of the men's first round robin is set for 12 p.m. Monday. The women's competition gets underway at 7 p.m. Monday.
*Brady Clark 100 010 20x x - 4
John Shuster 021 101 05x x - 10
Pete Fenson 001 010 20x x - 4
*Tyler George 010 301 04x x - 9
*last rock in first end
Heath McCormick (Sarnia, Ont.) 1-0
John Shuster (Duluth, Minn.) 1-0
Pete Fenson (Bemidji, Minn.) 1-1
Tyler George (Duluth, Minn.) 1-1
Brady Clark (Seattle, Wash.) 0-2
USA Curling is webstreaming the round robin action live leading up to the playoffs at www.usacurl.org. NBC Sports Network is slated to air up to 15 hours of live playoff action from Trials.
The women's berth for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games has been secured, whereas the men's berth will need to be earned in December at the final Olympic Qualification Event, Dec. 10-15, in Füssen, Germany. The winner of the men's side of the Olympic Trials will represent the U.S. at the Olympic qualifier.
A complete game schedule, news access guidelines as well as the media accreditation form can be downloaded at www.usacurl.org (click on the Olympic Trials logo).
Winning teams will be nominated to the U.S. Olympic Team pending approval by the United States Olympic Committee.
Visit the USA Curling website at www.usacurl.org and connect with USA Curling on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Foursquare.
For more information: Terry Kolesar, USA Curling, email@example.com, 715-344-1199, Ext. 202, or 608-338-9900 (cell)