Catching up with Olympic champion John Shuster

By Suzanna Viau | March 26, 2019, 12:08 p.m. (ET)

Part four in a six-part series: Next up in the Gold Medal Q&A series, Team USA's skip John Shuster.

When did it finally sink in that you had won the gold medal?


It happened before we even won, when we scored that five in the 8th end we all knew. And then when it really hit me how important it was when I started watching the videos of all the watch parties at curling clubs all over the country. And those are what still hits home for me, and I realize what it meant to our entire curling community as a country, so I get emotional watching those videos.


You’ve gotten to travel a lot for curling over the year, What is one of your favorite curling clubs to play in, and where is somewhere that you haven’t been that you still want to visit?


I have absolutely loved playing in the Maritimes in Canada. We played a Grand Slam in Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia, and a World Championships in Halifax, and a we’ve played a few times in St. John’s, Newfoundland. One club I still want to curl at is Wausau because I have buddies that do the Wausau Men’s Bonspiel every year and it’s always during men’s nationals, so when I retire that’s going to be one of the first places the I go to play.


If you could give your junior curling self any advice or knowledge, what would it be?


Be patient with results. It was disheartening for me because I didn’t make it to my first junior national until I was 19. I did playdowns every year since I was 14 and it felt like I had won almost every junior bonspiel at some point. So be patient with results. I would also say to keep dong what I was doing because I bonspieled with friends and mixed teams. And I think that my love for curling and the sense of being a part of something bigger really developed because of that aspect, that I wasn't stuck to three other players and played everything with them. I played with a lot of different people and made a ton of friends and that would be something I would absolutely do the same way.


Can you walk me through your thought process before throwing the “5 in the 8th shot”?


It began with knowing that if Niklas's rock didn't end up perfect that I was going to have that shot, and then when it came to fruition that it was there, myself and Tyler put the broom down and we knew we were throwing it. As I was going to the other end I was breathing the way I breathe through big shots and turned and looked at the shot like I almost had a second of deja vu. And what popped into my head was that I had thrown that shot playing one-on-one against Jeff Erikson the last time I played him before I left for the Olympics. And I made it when I was playing him.  So instead of thinking this shot is for five and could win us a gold medal, and probably going to go down in history, that was not a single thought that was in my head. I was only thinking that I made this shot in the last one-on-one game I played before I left for the Olympics.


Who was your biggest inspiration, and/or what kept you inspired on your journey to the podium?


That would be my family. Everyone from my wife to my mom have made lots and lots of sacrifices along the way and choices to help my curling career. That's where inspiration for me comes from --wanting to do the best for the people who matter the most.


Suzanna Viau is a junior curler from Wisconsin. Originally from Stevens Point, but now curling out of St Paul. She is a U18 National Championships bronze medalist and two-time Wisconsin State High School Champion. Keep an eye out for the next installment featuring Tyler George.

Olympic champ with author Suzanna Viau.