We’re still in the beginning of 2018, but as Minnesota sports fans, we’ve been treated to not only one, but two sporting miracles. First, in January we had the Minnesota Vikings’ “Minneapolis Miracle” which will probably be my favorite sports moment of all time.
Then, on Saturday, the United States’ men’s curling team competed in the gold medal game in the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea against the team from Sweden.
Team Shuster, as they are called, defeated Sweden 10-7 to bring home the United States’ first gold medal in curling.
The team is made up of four Minnesotans, skip, or captain John Shuster, Tyler George, Joe Polo and John Landsteiner.
The final member of the team, Matt Hamilton, hails from Wisconsin.
Team Shuster calls the Duluth Curling Club home and until Saturday, they called themselves a team of “rejects.”
The five guys that make up Team Shuster were all but washed up when they decided to get together and make their own team. John Shuster was part of the 2006 bronze medal Olympic team but had extremely lack luster performances in 2010 in Vancouver and in 2014 in Sochi.
He was even benched at the 2010 games, which is pretty unheard of in the curling world.
Following a disappointing 2014 Olympics, Shuster, Landsteiner and Hamilton were all dropped by the United States Olympics High Performance Program. Fast forward to 2015 and the team of “rejects” went on to beat elite teams to capture the World Men’s Curling Championship and to earn bronze the following year.
To earn their spot on the Olympic squad, Team Shuster went on to win the 2017 U.S. Curling trials which left many in the curling world stunned, but the team of rejects knew there was more on the horizon.
At the start of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, Team Shuster’s record was 2-4. They were on the brink of elimination, and in order to win a gold medal, they would have to beat three-time Olympic gold medalists Canada twice, Switzerland, Great Britain and number one ranked Sweden.
Last Wednesday morning, I was listening to KFAN in the car and I couldn’t believe it, they were playing audio live from the game with the U.S. and Canada.
Just like the guys on KFAN, I don’t know a lot about curling, but the team’s success and energy is contagious. They were cheering and so was I as they beat Canada!
Team Shuster had to win five straight games, but they did it! Since then, it’s been dubbed the “Miracurl on Ice.” A team of unlikely heroes, in an unlikely sport, etched their place in United States Olympic history.
Within hours of winning the gold, my favorite Minnesota clothing company, SotaStick Co., came out with new apparel commemorating Team Shuster’s giant win.
I’m not sure if I’m a big enough fan to wear curling shirts, but they are one of kind, local and cool. It was really neat to see and hear people’s new interest in curling.
Everyone from news anchors to your next door neighbors were keeping their eyes on the curling team. What I think is inspiring, is how they are encouraging people from all across the United States to look into curling and give it a try.
After the game, skip John Shuster said in an NBC interview, “I think we saw that curling really has a chance for taking off in our country and we’d like nothing more than to help with that.”
If you caught any of their games, or saw them on the news, they look just like regular guys.
I think it’s inspiring how this team persevered and never gave up, even when they weren’t thought of as “good enough” to be Olympians.
Now they’re Olympic gold medalists.