Rock on! Team USA finally beat Canada in men's curling at the Winter Olympics
Warning: Curling terminology abounds. Team USA curling managed to stay in medal contention at the Winter Olympics with a dramatic win over Canada on Monday in the men's tournament. The Americans needed a perfect shot from skip John Shuster to win on the final rock. Although the road to the playoffs isn't easy, the 3-4 Americans are still alive. They may need two wins and a tie-breaker to move forward, but sometimes, all you need is a bit of hope.
And right now, just celebrate the day! The U.S. had never beaten Canada in men's Olympic curling before Monday, so this win is a big deal in its own right. Canada's men's team has won gold in each of the last three Olympics. Shuster had as much ice in his veins as there was on Gangneung Curling Centre's surface on his final two shots, particularly the last one. He recorded a takeout on a Canadian stone before landing near the button, giving Team USA a clutch 9-7 win in extra ends.
"I knew (the last shot) was a tiny bit tighter line than I initially wanted it to be out of my hand,'' Shuster, a native of Duluth, Minn., said, via the Star Tribune. "I gave a scream for Matt (Hamilton) to sweep, and it got by by half an inch.
"It was good to bounce back. Let's just hope it's not too late. We kept ourselves in the mix and got a big win over an extremely good curling team. I'm extremely proud of the way the team came together and played.''
Canada was playing catch-up nearly all game, managing to tie things up twice. It never led past end two. However, the U.S. was able to keep Canada in the hole. Canadian skip Kevin Koe's team is 4-3 in these Olympics, despite being heavy favorites coming in.
For the U.S., however, the win over this competition is not lost in the shuffle.
"If we can come back from (Sunday's two losses) and play a game like we did against four hall-of-fame caliber players, that can give you a whole lot of momentum moving forward,'' Shuster said, via the Star-Tribune.
The U.S. is not full of particularly skilled shooters, it's last in the tournament in shooting, and Shuster is last among skips. However, he hit 82 percent of his attempts against Canada, his best of the tournament -- and he needed every one.
"We know what we're capable of doing," Shuster said. "That's the team we are. It's unfortunate we haven't been able to put all that together until now. I'm happy that no matter what happens the rest of the week that we got to showcase that for the world, so people can see the team we are.''
The USA's last two round-robin games will be against Switzerland (5-2) and Great Britain (4-3). It will need to beat both and have Norway and Japan lose two of their final three to advance. However, the win against Canada was a statement for Team USA, and a profound one at that.