Watch the one shot that doubled USA's score and won a historic curling gold


Imagine you’re at bat in the eighth inning in Game 7 of the World Series, with two outs, the bases loaded and the score tied.

Then imagine you hit a grand slam.

That, in essence, is what John Shuster did Saturday with the shot that all but assured the United States its first-ever gold medal in Olympic curling.

You don’t have to understand curling to know by the reaction from Shuster, his teammates and the fans in attendance that something monumental had happened on the final throw of the eighth end (“ends” are to curling what “innings” are to baseball).

The shot knocked both of Sweden’s remaining stones from play, leaving the U.S. with five stones in the house all by themselves for a commanding 10-5 lead.

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Five-point ends in curling are about as rare as grand slams in baseball. They don’t happen often, but when they do, they change the course of the game dramatically.

This one made U.S. Olympic history.

“I was happy to get a chance to make that last [shot] for these guys, for all the shots they made through the course of this week and the course of this game,’’ Shuster said. “I can’t tell you how un-nervous I was, sitting in the hack to throw it. These guys, their belief and their hard work, gave me the confidence to sit in the hack and let it go.”

Sweden, which was ranked No. 1 in the world and had beaten the U.S. team 10-4 during pool play, had tied the game at 5-5 with a point in the seventh end.

Shuster’s teammates — Tyler George, John Landsteiner and Matt Hamilton — had put four stones in the house (the scoring rings), but Sweden had the stone closest to the button (or the center ring), meaning Sweden was going to earn the point for the end and take a 6-5 lead.

It would have taken a great throw just to have given the U.S. team a point. By knocking both of Sweden’s stones from the house, however, it not only shut them out, it put five stones in the circles for the U.S., giving them all five points.

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Sweden scored two in the ninth, but conceded with two stones left to play to make it a 10-7 final.

Making the medal round was a stunner in and of itself for Team USA. The Americans were 10th at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and ninth at the Sochi Winter Games in 2014.

“I wanted to sing my national anthem and stand on the top of the podium at the Olympics,” Shuster said. “From the day the 2014 Olympics came to an end, every single day was with this journey in mind.”

These Olympics appeared to be headed in a familiar direction for the Americans, however, and they found themselves with a 2-4 record with three games left in the tournament. One more loss and their medal hopes would have been over.

But the team turned it around, pulling off not one but two stunning wins over Canada — the U.S. had never beaten Canada in the Olympics — to earn their way into Saturday’s match with Sweden for a chance at gold.

They not only won gold, they did so with the sport’s own version of a “Miracle on Ice.”

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Scott Kelnhofer is a writer for The Western Journal and Conservative Tribune. A native of Milwaukee, he currently resides in Phoenix.
Scott Kelnhofer is a writer for The Western Journal and Conservative Tribune. He has more than 20 years of experience in print and broadcast journalism. A native of Milwaukee, he has resided in Phoenix since 2012.
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