Curling: Shuster rink clinches return trip to Winter Olympics
The 5-4 victory over Korey Dropkin's rink sends the Superior curler to his fifth Olympic Games.
John Shuster and his curling team showed they've been here before at the U.S. Olympic Trials, and because of that, they're going to another place they've been before, the Olympic Games.
Demonstrating the experience accrued in four Olympics, a near-perfect Shuster led his team to his fifth, defeating Korey Dropkin's rink 5-4 in the third and final game of the best-of-three trials series at Baxter Arena in Omaha, Nebraska on Sunday.
Shuster, from Superior, joins Chris Plys of Duluth, Matt Hamilton of McFarland, Wisconsin and John Landsteiner of Duluth on Team USA at the 2022 Games in Beijing, China. All have been to at least one other Olympics, with Shuster, Hamilton and Landsteiner defending Olympic gold medalists from 2018.
Team Shuster denied an Olympics bid for the Dropkin rink, which consists of Bemidjians Mark Fenner and Alex Fenson, plus Bemidji Curling Club member Joe Polo of Duluth.
The first half of the match was a cagey affair, with three blank ends and the only scoring coming from forced singles for either side. But after the fifth-end break, Shuster and his team refused to blink. They scored a deuce in the sixth end to take a 3-1 lead.
In the seventh, Dropkin failed to dislodge Shuster's stone from the center 'button' leading to a steal of one point, and in the eighth, Dropkin's throw came up short of the mark, allowing Shuster to count another single.
Dropkin cut the lead in half with a pair of points in the ninth end, but with the hammer, Shuster's squad kept the opposition at arm's length. With the last rock of the Trials, Shuster needed only to execute a simple takeout to hold Dropkin's rink to a meaningless point and clinch the game.
This marks the second time Shuster has advanced to the Olympics in this trials format after losing the first match of the best-of-three. Dropkin took the opener 8-4 on Friday night before Shuster evened the series 7-3 on Saturday.
Men's curling competition begins at the "Water Cube" venue Michael Phelps made famous as a swimming pool on Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022.