Shuster Rink wins historic men’s curling gold for U.S.

John Shuster (center) celebrates with his Olympic Gold Medal winning U.S. men’s curling team.

Redemption makes the best stories. The hardest thing in life is to be knocked down and come back better than before. It doesn’t matter if it’s navigating relationships, recovering from injury, overcoming failure, or sliding a 40-pound stone across the ice.

The U.S. Men’s Curling team, led by Chisholm native John Shuster, won the gold medal at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics today. The victory caps Shuster’s 12-year struggle to translate his gift for curling into Olympic success.

Shuster won a bronze medal on Pete Fenson’s 2006 Olympic curling team. That was the first curling medal for the U.S. But Shuster wanted to do more than serve as a third on someone else’s team. He struck out on his own, dominating American curling with his own rink for the next eight years.

Unfortunately, Shuster struggled mightily at the 2010 and 2014 Olympics. He missed key shots and was even benched by U.S. Curling at one point because he seemed spooked. Shuster said in an interview that after the 2014 Sochi Olympics he could go on Twitter and  “spend three hours reading mean tweets and never read the same tweet twice.” People were actually referring to curling failure as “Shustering,” not unlike the fate that befell the fictional Roy Munson in the bowling comedy “Kingpin.”

The U.S. Curling Association cut Shuster out of its plans for future Olympics. He wasn’t invited to a special training camp designed to produce America’s first curling gold. So he formed his own team of Duluth-area curling veterans and beat the ringers at the Olympic qualifiers.

Alas, this year’s Olympics started much the same way. Shuster’s rink lost some winnable games due to missed shots and wandering strategy. It looked like a Shustering three-peat. But then midway through the tournament, Shuster poured it on. Years of curling proficiency unseen by national television audiences came bubbling to the surface and he dominated the world’s best.

In the last five games, including today’s gold medal, Team Shuster beat the four best teams in the world, one of them twice.

And they did so with the support and encouragement of Mr. T.

Yes, Mr. T.

But it’s telling that Shuster’s redemption becomes an even bigger story than the curling conversion of the A-Team’s B.A. Baracus. It took determination and discipline. It’s a great story.

As I’ve already pointed out, the New York Times named Minnesota as key to America’s 2018 Olympic success. No one deserves more congratulations than Shuster. His Twitter feed no doubt looks a little better today.


  1. Barb Burgenske says

    Superior is in Wisconsin!!

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