The U.S. men’s curling team came into the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 wanting to be serious contenders for a medal. They’ve made good on their intention, moving one step closer to winning the country's second curling medal ever and first since 2006.
The team of John Shuster, Tyler George, Matt Hamilton, John Landsteiner and Joe Polo has reached the semifinals in dramatic style, defeating Great Britain, 10-4, in eight ends Wednesday. It was a must-win for the U.S., as the team came into the match with a record of 4-4. The win caps off three days of pressure-packed round robin play for the U.S., as the team had to win every game to stay in the tournament.
The U.S. win means it will be the No. 3 seed in the semifinals. The last time Team USA advanced that deep in the Olympic men’s curling tournament was 2006, when they won the country's first and only Olympic curling medal, a bronze.
It took a little bit of luck, magic and history for the U.S. to advance this fear, needing two wins and a tiebreaker. Things looked bleak Sunday, when the U.S. had a 2-4 record, and had no room for error the final three round-robin games.
But on Monday, for first time in men’s Olympic curling history, the U.S. defeated Canada – the three-time defending gold medalist. It came down to team captain John Shuster pulling off a perfect shot on the final rock, but it indeed happened.
On Tuesday, the U.S. defeated a strong Swiss team, 6-4, with Shuster shooting 97 percent.
Shuster is the common link between the 2006 success and the 2018 resurgence. He’s been on the team since those Games, this year becoming the first four-time U.S. Olympic men's curler, and this time against Great Britain, he chose an aggressive take-out game plan.
The U.S. started well, going up 2-0 in the first end. Great Britain recovered, and went up 3-2. The Americans recovered lead, 5-3, by the mid-point break.
The win was sealed in the eighth end, when the Americans put up four points and Great Britain conceded the match.
Team Shuster will play Canada in its semifinal match on Thursday.
Joanne C. Gerstner has covered two Olympic Games and writes regularly for The New York Times and other outlets about sports. She has written for TeamUSA.org since 2009 as a freelance contributor on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.