FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb. 22, 2018
American men to play for Olympic gold
(GANGNEUNG, South Korea) – The United States will make its first appearance in the Olympic gold-medal game after John Shuster led Team USA to a dramatic 5-3 semifinal win over Canada’s Kevin Koe tonight at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.
Shuster (Superior, Wis.) and his team of Tyler George (Duluth, Minn.), Matt Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.), John Landsteiner (Duluth, Minn.), and Joe Polo (Duluth, Minn.) are now guaranteed to go home with a medal from South Korea.
“Personally, it’s very meaningful. Knowing the work that we’ve done together and seeing my teammates being the best versions of themselves along with myself is really, really exhilarating,” said Shuster, who won bronze in 2006. “Our team has had its back against the wall plenty of times. But come on, it’s the Olympics! Who’s going to give up? I’ve had some phenomenal teammates through this whole process and each one of them has played a part in getting us here. We’re just ready.”
The American men will take on Sweden’s Niklas Edin at 3:35 p.m. KT on Saturday at the Gangneung Curling Centre. Edin’s team defeated Switzerland’s Peter de Cruz, 9-3, in the other men’s semifinal. Canada and Switzerland will play for the bronze medal tomorrow afternoon.
“It’s unbelievable. I don’t know if I am going to sleep tonight. I think we are going to play even better, because there’s no pressure of ‘what if we get fourth?’ ‘what if we walk away with nothing?’” said Landsteiner, who also was a member of the 2014 Olympic team. “With that pressure gone and the desire to get gold over the silver – I’m excited for what that game is going to be like.”
It is the first time since 1981 that the U.S. men have reached the championship final of a world or Olympic final.
“I don’t think there’s going to be any more pressure. I’ve never been in this situation before so I can’t tell you for sure!! Any medal is a good medal and we’re going to go out there and play our game and hope for the best,” Hamilton said.
In a battle in which side would flinch first, the American men never faltered as they methodically made shot after shot. Shuster shot a scorching 91 percent in leading the U.S. men.
“I was nervous, it was a good nervousness. Our boys played really well. Canada maybe didn’t have their ‘A’ game. As a team, we just played awesome and no one can say we didn’t deserve to win that game,” said Coach Derek Brown.
The tightly-contested match was broke open in the eighth end when the U.S. men made key shots when they needed them the most.
“I don’t remember us being in trouble at any point. We really stressed ‘let’s be really careful without the hammer – let’s not give these guys a big end and when we get the hammer we’re going after them tooth and nail,’” George said. “But, you saw how difficult it is to put points up on those guys. You’ve got to bleed points out of them. When you’re playing the best in the world, you’ve got to keep beating them down until someone flinches and this time it wasn’t us.”
After the first end was blanked, Canada had a chance for two points after Koe played a double takeout that left a Canadian rock in a fortuitous spot. Shuster was a little light with his attempt to draw the button but it was enough to throw off Koe’s draw attempt as it hung out wide and Canada only collected a point. The U.S. team was held to a single in the third end when their soft tap to move a Canadian stone into third count didn’t pan out.
A really nice tap from Hamilton put the U.S. in control of the fourth end and Canada was eventually forced to make a takeout to earn a single. In the fifth end, Shuster converted a very difficult, and risky, runback double takeout to score a point.
Canada would then blank the next two ends as they were unable to set up an end to score multiple points thanks to the great defense by the U.S. men.
In the eighth end, a great hit and roll with Laing’s second stone placed a second Canadian stone in the rings. Two fantastic shots from George finally removed the Canadian shot rock in the eight-foot. Shuster used his first skip stone to draw into the back of the four-foot to have one in scoring position. Koe followed his path but was narrow with his delivery and his stone rubbed on a rock in the top of the house to sit in second position. Shuster then perfectly picked the stone out to sit two and force Koe to draw the four-foot for a single. However, Koe was light once again and USA stole both points for its first lead of the game at 4-2.
The ninth end turned in favor of the U.S. when Canada’s guard attempt with Brent Laing’s stone did not get over the hogline – exposing the lone Canadian stone in the house. The end was looking like it would be blanked until the American men opted to freeze to the lone Canada stone in the house versus removing it and giving the Canadians an easy takeout. Because the freeze was so precise, Koe was not able to blank the end and had to settle for a single. The American men would seal the win with a hit and stick to move them into a new chapter in U.S. curling history.
“Personally, I thought they were playing good enough, if we just wait them out, we’d make enough shots to get a deuce at some point. Phill was more nervous than I was,” said Polo, who was a member of the historic 2006 team that won the country’s first Olympic medal in curling.
“We were hoping to get a deuce, we knew it was going to be a low-scoring game. We got a deuce in an unusual way in the eighth end and the guys really took advantage and picked themselves up. We just had a lot of positive energy out their today,” said Coach Phill Drobnick (Eveleth, Minn.).
The U.S. men will practice at 10:30 a.m. Friday. Mixed zone access will be available for the media after practice concludes.
The women’s semi-finals are set to take place Friday night with host Korea (8-1) taking on Japan (5-4) while Sweden (7-2) and Great Britain (6-3) will battle in the other semifinal at 8:05 p.m. KT.
For a complete photo gallery from each game, go to https://www.facebook.com/teamusacurl.
Line scores, semifinals:
*Canada 010 100 001 0 – 3
USA 001 010 020 1 – 5
*Sweden 200 402 10x x – 9
Switzerland 010 010 01x x – 3
*last rock in first end
Men’s bronze-medal game, Canada vs. Switzerland, 3:35 p.m.
Women’s semifinals, Korea vs. Japan and Sweden vs. Great Britain, 8:05 p.m.
Men’s gold-medal game, USA vs. Sweden, 3:35 p.m.
Women’s bronze-medal game, 8:05 p.m.
Women’s gold-medal game, 9:05 a.m.
All games are streaming live at www.nbcolympics.com and on the NBC Sports app with TV coverage live or on tape delay on NBCSN, USA Network and CNBC. A complete schedule is posted at http://www.nbcolympics.com/live-stream-schedule#/.
For more information on the U.S. teams, go to https://www.teamusa.org/usa-curling/2018-us-olympic-curling-team.
To follow along, go to https://www.pyeongchang2018.com/en/game-time/results/OWG2018/en/curling/daily-schedule.htm
For more information: Terry Davis, Director of Communications, email@example.com, 608-338-9900 (mobile) or 0-104-364-8015 (Korean mobile).