John Shuster looks on against Team Switzerland during the Men’s Curling Round Robin Session 9 at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Feb. 15, 2022 in Beijing, China.
BEIJING — John Shuster would have preferred his last rock in the eighth end Tuesday night had finished a half an inch in the other direction, tying the U.S. men’s curling team’s game with Italy and giving the Americans new life in the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.
Instead, a half inch the other way and it was four points heading in the opposite direction, and that was handshakes.
The knock-on effect of that loss meant the U.S. couldn’t clinch a spot in the semifinals Tuesday, nor were they able to do so on an off-day Wednesday. But there remains one more chance for the U.S. that makes that missed shot not so devastating. Win the last round robin game against Denmark on Thursday and the defending Olympic champs are into the semifinals.
“I still think our destiny is in our own hands,” Shuster, the team’s skip, said following the 10-4 loss against Italy. “We’ve been there before. … I know if we win our last game, the worst we can be is tied for fourth, and hopefully if we’re tied for fourth, the tiebreaker goes the right way and that puts us into the medal round.”
After Wednesday’s draw, the U.S. sits alone in the fourth and final playoff spot at 4-4. Should Team USA beat Denmark Thursday to finish 5-4, no team currently behind Shuster in the standings can match that record. The U.S. could in fact finish in a tie for third, but would lose the tiebreaker to Canada having already lost to them. Lose to Denmark and there are ways for the U.S. to still get into the playoffs at 4-5, depending on which teams and how many are tied.