US curlers have epic Olympic entrance behind skip Shuster

Feb 4, 2022, 9:50 AM | Updated: 11:56 pm
U.S. men's curling team's John Shuster chats with a reporter after a news conference at the 2022 Wi...

U.S. men's curling team's John Shuster chats with a reporter after a news conference at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022, in Beijing. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

BEIJING (AP) — About the only way the U.S. men’s curling team can top its entrance at the Beijing Olympics is by winning another gold medal.

Skip John Shuster carried the American flag into the Bird’s Nest for the opening ceremony along with speedskater Brittany Bowe on Friday night. Shuster’s teammates, including two who were with him when the Americans won their first Olympic curling gold medal four years ago, walked in just behind him, arm-in-arm.

“Being able to experience that, honestly, with another athlete, and to lead all of Team USA was the biggest honor of my career to this point,” said Shuster, a five-time Olympian who also won a bronze at Turin in 2006.

Shuster was the first curler to carry the U.S. flag at the Olympics, a sign of how popular the sport has become since the Americans’ dramatic win at Pyeongchang in 2018, when they survived five straight elimination matches.

“I had the best seat in the house, baby. I was right behind him,” teammate Matt Hamilton said Saturday.

Hamilton was still buzzing about a photo his sister, Becca, a member of the women’s team, took from just behind the men’s team as it entered the stadium. It shows Hamilton, Chris Plys, John Landsteiner and alternate Colin Hufman arm-in-arm, with Shuster waving the flag and the Olympic rings in the background.

Hamilton called it “one of the most epic photos I have ever seen. I don’t know if she realized it when she took it, but that photo is incredible and I’m just super stoked to be a part of it. It kind of felt very fitting that John was up there and the four of us teammates behind, linked arm-in-arm, had his back, just like we always do. It just felt like a really perfect start to this Olympics.”

Shuster and Hamilton said that while there is pressure being the defending gold medalists, they aren’t going to let it overwhelm them.

“Honestly, for us as athletes, the fact that we got to reach the pinnacle of our sport … we’ll always be Olympic champions,” Shuster said. “That will be something we always get to carry with us. That’s kind of let the pressure off me. I’ve always cared so much about going to the Olympics and having a great performance. Getting to be on the top of that podium I think has taken the pressure off and I think we’re just really going to go out there and enjoy the opportunity to try to defend.”

The men’s competition starts Wednesday at the Ice Cube.

“Can’t take that medal away from me now,” Hamilton said with a laugh. “Just stoked to be back and obviously the first go-around went well. That’s all I know. Hoping to do it again.”

Hamilton said he had a moment after the 2018 Games when he had to decide if he was content with one gold medal or wanted to go for another. Plus, there’s the social aspect of being in the tight-knit curling community.

“I realized I was still hungry and love competing,” he said. “Playing against all my friends is kind of a dream come true from all the other countries. They’re all awesome people. I had some of the guys from the Swedish team come to my wedding the summer before the Olympics. So just the friendships I’ve cultivated through curling is another big reason that I just wanted to continue to compete so I could go around and see all my buddies again.”

Shuster’s Olympic career has had its ups and downs. He won bronze in 2006, the first U.S. Olympic curling medal of any color, as the lead for Pete Fenson’s team. He left to form his own rink, earning a trip to the Vancouver Games but performing so badly that he benched himself.

After finishing last in 2010, Shuster won the U.S. trials again four years later but managed just a ninth-place finish in Sochi. When USA Curling put together a high-performance camp of the country’s top 10 players, Shuster didn’t make the cut.

So he put together a foursome called “Team Rejects” and not only beat the federation-backed squads in the U.S. trials but won gold in South Korea.

Now it’s back to being Team Shuster.

“We are definitely a team,” Shuster said. “Someone said if you could describe your job, I’m like, ‘I yell at my employees for a living and I’m treated as if I’m their boss, but I’m not really their boss.'”

___

More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/winter-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Storm set WNBA record with 37 assists, beat Sky 111-100

CHICAGO (AP) — Breanna Stewart had 25 points and nine rebounds, Gabby Williams added 21 points and seven assists, and the Seattle Storm set a WNBA record with 37 assists in a 111-100 victory over the Chicago Sky on Tuesday night. Seattle also set a franchise record for scoring in any half with 66 first-half […]
20 hours ago
New York Mets relief pitcher Edwin Diaz celebrates after striking out Atlanta Braves' Matt Olson du...
Associated Press

Reds-Mets series another happy reunion for Díaz family

NEW YORK (AP) — Family reunion at Citi Field. New York Mets closer Edwin Díaz and his brother, Cincinnati Reds rookie reliever Alexis Díaz, exchanged the lineup cards at home plate before Tuesday’s game between the teams. With several family members watching and wearing split Mets/Reds shirts picturing both brothers for the second straight night, […]
20 hours ago
In this combination of photos from video provided by ESPN, pitcher Kaiden Shelton (29), of Pearland...
Associated Press

Beaned Little League batter rises to console upset pitcher

WACO, Texas (AP) — A Little League batter rose from a beaning to console the upset pitcher in a dramatic scene at a Little League regional tournament game Tuesday in Waco, Texas. The incident happened during a Little League Southwest Regional Playoff final. Righthander Kaiden Shelton of Pearland, Texas, was facing batter Isaiah Jarvis of […]
20 hours ago
Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson, back, forces out Colorado Rockies' Brendan Rodgers at sec...
Associated Press

Chisox SS Anderson expected to miss 6 weeks with finger tear

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Chicago White Sox All-Star shortstop Tim Anderson is expected to miss six weeks because of a tear in the middle of his left hand suffered in a game last weekend. The playoff-contending White Sox made the announcement Tuesday after losing to Kansas City 4-2 in the first game of a […]
20 hours ago
Chicago White Sox's Tim Anderson reacts after being called out on strikes to end the top of the nin...
Associated Press

Minus injured Anderson, Chisox fall to Pratto, KC in Game 1

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Minus injured All-Star shortstop Tim Anderson, the Chicago White Sox fell to rookie Nick Pratto and the Kansas City Royals 4-2 Tuesday in the first game of a doubleheader. Anderson is expected to miss six weeks with a tear in the middle finger of his left hand. He was put […]
20 hours ago
Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay, left, signs autographs for fans at the NFL football team's ...
Associated Press

Sean McVay reveals he has contract extension with LA Rams

IRVINE, Calif. (AP) — Coach Sean McVay says he has finalized his contract extension with the Los Angeles Rams. McVay and the Rams didn’t reveal the terms of the long-expected deal, but the youngest coach to win a Super Bowl reaffirmed his long-term commitment to Los Angeles after practice Tuesday in training camp at UC […]
20 hours ago
US curlers have epic Olympic entrance behind skip Shuster