FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 8, 2018
Team Shuster shifts lineup as Tyler George steps away from sport
(STEVENS POINT, Wis.) – Olympic champion Tyler George (Duluth, Minn.) will be stepping away from elite curling, leaving a big hole to fill on Team John Shuster for the upcoming season.
2010 Olympian Chris Plys (Duluth, Minn.) has accepted an offer to join Shuster (Superior, Wis.), Matt Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.), John Landsteiner (Duluth, Minn.), and Joe Polo (Duluth, Minn.). Polo will be having off-season shoulder surgery and likely will miss the first half of the season.
“He’s a fantastic player and I’ve seen him develop from the kid who went and won a world junior gold medal to the man, teammate and curler that he’s become now,” Shuster said of Plys. “I’m excited to get a chance to play with him. I’ve seen the work he’s put in over the last four years – many times as we practiced late at night on adjacent curling sheets. I look forward to practicing and competing with him.”
Plys departs his position as vice skip with teammates Heath McCormick, Korey Dropkin and Tom Howell after two seasons together. “Two years ago, before I started playing with those three, I was ready to step back for awhile and those guys brought back the fun for me,” said Plys. “They brought a lot of shot-making and new friendships. I enjoyed my time playing with those guys.
“I can’t imagine joining a team that’s coming off winning an Olympic gold happens all that often,” Plys continued. “It’s great that they are at my club, so it will be nice to be able to practice together. Getting to play with Hamilton again is fantastic. I never thought it would be a possibility. I have a lot of respect for John [Shuster] and the player he’s become. I never had the chance to play with Lance [Landsteiner] and am looking forward to that as well. I hope I’m able to slide in seamlessly and bring a lot to the team.”
George’s decision to step away comes after reaching the pinnacle of his career – Olympic gold.
“It’s been a long road of a long season and when you play as much as we have it takes a lot of time and wear and tear on the body,” said George. “I’ve played down for 20 straight years with one minor break. It just seems like the right time to step away for a little bit and recharge the battery, let my body heal. Maybe I’ll come back stronger down the road – only time will tell.
“There’s still a lot I can do on the ambassador side of the game,” added George. “There’s never been a better time to step away from the game and keep the momentum going from the Olympics to help grow the sport.”
George, 35, was a member of Team Shuster since the 2014-15 season and won three national championship titles and bronze at the 2016 World Men’s Championship before being a key part in USA’s run to the top of the podium in Gangneung, South Korea, at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. “I don’t plan on disappearing from the game. I can fill in for the guys whenever they need me,” George said.
Shuster and his teammates became the first American team to win Olympic gold when they defeated Sweden on Feb. 24. The team also achieved many other milestones this season, ending the year ranked No. 13 in the Year to Date Order of Merit Standings on the World Curling Tour.
“At the end of our first season together it felt like something really big was happening. It was a really special four years as a team. I think that is something that we’ll have forever. I respect every person’s choice to do what’s best for him and this is something that he’s put a lot of thought into. I respect the heck out of that,” Shuster said of George’s decision. “It was an awesome time together.”
“Tyler’s been a great asset for USA Curling for a number of years in a number of different ways,” said Coach Phill Drobnick. “Most recently he has been an asset to Team Shuster and was a major part of the U.S. winning Olympic gold. He developed himself into one of the best touch players in the world. He’ll be greatly missed.”
Plys, 30, who was the alternate on the 2010 Olympic team, won World Junior medals in 2008 (gold) and 2009 (bronze) with Hamilton and World University Games gold with Shuster in 2007.
Said Drobnick: “Chris has a lot of experience playing back-end in big competitions. It will be an easy transition to bring him in – he’s good friends with the guys already and they’ve played together before. He’ll have the ability to practice with John in Duluth, which will be really helpful. Chris has a lot of abilities that he’ll bring in and I’m confident that he’ll help us continue this team’s success in the future.”
The remainder of the 2018-19 High Performance Program team announcements will come later this month.
USA Curling is sponsored by AtomOS, Nike, Brooms Up Curling Supplies, Cheetos, CryoMAX 8-Hour Cold Pack, Sitrin, The RAM Restaurant & Brewery, Thorne, BalancePlus, ISS (Ice, Sports & Solar), and Brakebush, and is partnered with Laurie Artiss Ltd. – The Pin People, United Airlines, 12th End Sports Network, IHG, and CurlingZone.
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