American men capture Curling World Cup title in Omaha

By Terry L. Davis | Dec. 09, 2018, 8:22 p.m. (ET)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Dec. 9, 2018

U.S. men sweep to Curling World Cup title in Omaha

(OMAHA, Neb.) – John Shuster got the better of Niklas Edin once again as the American men captured the men’s title at the second stage of the Curling World Cup today at Ralston Arena.

Shuster and his team of Chris Plys (Duluth, Minn.), Matt Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.), and John Landsteiner (Duluth, Minn.) took advantage of opportunities when they came in a modest 3-1 defeat of Sweden.

“What a great tournament, some great curling out here and some really great teams,” Shuster said. “I’m really proud to get a win anytime you have your country on your back.”

“You know what, we’ve had good vibes in Omaha before, so we were pretty confident we were going to play a good game that is was going to come down to the last shot,” Hamilton said, eluding to the team’s success last season in Omaha at the Olympic Trials. “The game was so tight and we both played pretty conservatively. There was no time that I was confident we were going to win, but I knew we were putting ourselves in a good opportunity. This is our first event win as our new squad and it feels good. I think it’s going to get the ball rolling for a lot of good things to come.”

Sweden had multiple chances to capitalize on to score points on the U.S. but seemed to miss shots at the most inopportune times.

“It wasn’t a very well-played game; we couldn’t figure out the ice. Both teams missed both high and low side. When they stole one, we knew we had to keep the hammer, especially with the five-rock rule you need the hammer,” Edin said. “They didn’t take too many chances and we didn’t want to take any risks either in not getting that deuce back. We took too long before we started playing well enough to give ourselves a chance.”

The win netted Team Shuster $20,000 (USD) and a spot in the Grand Final of the Curling World Cup this May in Beijing, China, where an even larger prize pool will be available.

“This was a really nice win for us. I feel like we’ve been playing well so to earn a spot in Beijing is good,” Landsteiner said. “It’ll be pretty late in the season, but it’s definitely something to look forward to.”

It was the first major tournament win this season for the Shuster team and first with Plys as their new vice skip with Tyler George stepping away from competitive curling. “It feels good. We’ve actually played really well this year on arena ice,” Plys said. “We think that this team can be not just a Grand Slam team but a top five team in the world. So far on our performance together I think we’re on the right track toward that.”

Despite not having the hammer to begin the game, it was the U.S. men who scored first when Sweden took a chance on a double takeout in hopes of scoring three points. The shot, unfortunately for the Swedes, resulted in a single stolen point for the Americans instead. Sweden bailed out on the third and fourth ends as chances for deuces dissipated.

A series of half shots by the U.S. had the American men in a pickle in the fifth end as Sweden looked primed to score three points. However, with Edin’s first takeout attempt, his shooter rolled out and the U.S. stone he was trying to remove slid to the back of the house and jammed on a Swedish rock as the end quickly turned back in favor of the U.S. After Shuster removed the other Swedish stone in scoring position, Edin was forced to draw in for a single point to tie the game, 1-1.

With the hammer for the first time in the match, the U.S. was held to a single point when half shots worked against them. The U.S. played well in the seventh end to work toward forcing Sweden into a single. An error from Plys with his final vice skip stone was erased when the Swedish vice skip also erred. With two U.S. stones in the house, Sweden could have taken a point but opted to give up a steal in order to retain the hammer in the eighth end.

“If you take one there, you’re toast – you’ve got a five percent chance to win the game. It’s a difficult call to give up one there, but it’s still a bad situation – obviously had no choice,” Edin said.

“We would have done the exact same thing,” Shuster said of Edin’s choice to give up the steal in the seventh end. “With the way curling is this day and age with the five-rock rule, you have a much better chance at winning when you’re down two with the hammer rather than tied up. That’s some of the stuff we’re going to learn here with this new rule.”

The U.S. team made all of its shots in the eighth end and Sweden had no opportunity to set up a big scoring end.

“I played really good all week, so it was frustrating to not be making everything today. My first one in eight was really good and set us up in a good spot to win,” Plys said.

Joining Team Shuster in Beijing at the Grand Final from the second leg will be Japan’s Satsuki Fujisawa rink and Norway’s mixed doubles team of Kristin Skaslien and Magnus Nedregotten. They join the three Canadian teams that qualified from the first Curling World Cup back in September.

Fujisawa’s rink defeated Korea, 7-6, to win the women’s final when skip Minji Kim’s final draw attempt was heavy. In the mixed doubles final, the Norwegians battled back from an early 0-4 deficit to defeat Switzerland’s Jenny Perret and Martin Rios, 10-5, in seven ends.

The next leg of the Curling World Cup will take place Jan. 30-Feb. 3 in Jonkoping, China. The U.S. will be represented by the Cory Christensen and Mark Fenner rinks as well as Becca Hamilton and Matt Hamilton in mixed doubles. To learn more about the Curling World Cup, go to www.curlingworldcup.com.

USA Curling is sponsored by AtomOS, Nike, Brooms Up Curling Supplies, Carhartt, CryoMAX 8-Hour Cold Pack, Sitrin, The RAM Restaurant & Brewery, Thorne, ISS (Ice, Sports & Solar), and Twin Cities Orthopedics, and is partnered with Carhartt, Brakebush, Laurie Artiss Ltd. – The Pin People, United Airlines, 12th End Sports Network, IHG, and CurlingZone.

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For more information: Terry Davis, Director of Communications, terry.davis@usacurl.org, 608-338-9900 (mobile).