John Landsteiner is the first in a Gold Medal Question and Answer feature series written by Suzanna Viau. John is a two-time Olympian, and a member of the Duluth Curling Club, and an Olympic gold medalist as lead for Team Shuster in PyeongChang.
Q: When did it finally sink in that you had won the gold medal?
Honestly, it continues to sink in. It first hits you when we scored five in the eighth, that we were more than likely going to win. Then it hits you again on the medal stand. Then it continues to build for the next few weeks as our lives changed during that time, going from nobodies to a team that everyone knows.
Q: What is the best perk of being a gold medalist? On the flip side, what has been the most difficult part?
Getting to travel around the country meeting thousands and thousands of people, and getting to share the medal with them and see the smiles it puts on their faces. It is also fantastic hearing their stories of where they were and how they watched us, whether it be just the gold medal game or all of our games.
The most difficult part is getting back to real life. From January through August, I never got more than one full week of work in at a time. I would always show up to work for a day or two and then be leaving to go somewhere else. I am finally getting settled back into my normal life, however, curling season has begun again!
Q: If you could give your junior curling self any advice or knowledge, what would it be?
I would work hard on studying how the big teams play the game. Learn from the situations they get into. Learn when to play the draw, or the hit, or when to bail. Learn how to play the scoreboard. During or before all that, you have to just continue to practice repetition on the ice. We still, as gold medalists, are not perfect. It is a craft we have to continue to hone.
Q: What was the overall experience of the Olympics like? Was the food good?
It was pretty great. There was a cool game room, lounge, nice gym. The dining hall was the best part of the Olympic Village, for sure. Any kind of food you can imagine. None of it was like anything in the States. It was all much healthier. I could eat twice as much there and lose weight rather than gain weight.
Q: If you could pick another Olympic sport (summer or winter) to compete in, what would it be and why?
Probably golf? Although I am not nearly good enough for that...
Q: Who was your biggest inspiration, and/or what kept you inspired on your journey to the podium?
At the Olympics themselves, probably my own team and my family and friends who were there to watch. We all went through the journey together, and it was up to us 4-5 people to make sure we pushed each other to do our best. The journey to the Olympics was definitely a grind. I think the biggest inspiration is 1) the desire to win, 2) family support, and 3) love of the game.
Look for Part Two in our Olympic series featuring Joe Polo – coming soon!
Suzanna Viau is a junior curler from Stevens Point, Wis., who now curls out of the St. Paul Curling Club while studying at the University of Minnesota. She is a U18 National Championships bronze medalist and two-time Wisconsin State High School Champion.