John Landsteiner, John Shuster and Matt Hamilton compete against Team Italy during the Men’s Curling Round Robin Session on Day 11 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics on February 15, 2022 in Beijing, China.
But one thing is clear: the easiest way to secure a spot in the medal round is to beat Denmark.
The two teams met at the 2021 World Championships, an 8-3 victory for Shuster.
“I’m disappointed because losing stinks, but the thing is, we’re not out of it,” said Shuster, a five-time Olympian from Superior, Wisconsin. “If (the Italy loss) meant we were out of the tournament, I think I would probably feel a bit different. But the fact that we still have life, I think I’m just trying to let it go and try to get over it.
As Shuster mentioned, the team has been here before. His team was one loss away from elimination in the final two U.S. Olympic Team Trials before rallying to secure a berth. Even in their gold medal triumph four years ago in PyeongChang, the team started slow with a 2-4 record to open the round robin. But the guys won three straight against some of the best teams in the world and kept rolling throughout the gold medal game.
If they beat Denmark on Thursday and qualify, they will enter the semi-finals with the same record as in 2018: 5-4.
“I wanted us to come to these Olympics and play well and see what was going to happen. And for the most part we played really well,” Shuster said. “And it’s fun to be sitting here with a game to play in the round robin knowing that we have a shot at getting into the medal round. And honestly, whether you get to the medal round and you’re 5-4 or 9-0, the records are erased and you win two games and you get a gold medal. So we hope to have this chance.
The Danes are in last place in the round robin with a 1-7 record, and no team has scored fewer points. Denmark lost to Italy on Wednesday in one of three matches in the afternoon tie. The United States is not one of them. Shuster and teammates Matt Hamilton, John Landsteiner and Chris Plys had planned to spend the day watching other games before training in the afternoon.
“I’m sure we’ll watch a bit,” Shuster said. “Honestly, when we’re in our apartment, we legitimately watch the Olympics and enjoy being on Team USA and watching our teammates and everything. We’ll see what else is on TV besides curling tomorrow and we’ll do the same kind of thing on the day off because I thought we had a great day off (Monday) and we went out great (Tuesday) morning.
The day off means plenty of rest for Team Shuster as they prepare to face Denmark on Thursday morning at 9am Beijing time Wednesday night in the United States.
Want to follow the athletes of the American team during the Beijing 2022 Olympic Games? Visit TeamUSA.org/Beijing-2022-Olympic-Games to view the competition schedule, medal table and results.