GANGNEUNG, South Korea – If you want to compete against some gold medal winners, all you need to do is get yourself to league night at the Duluth Curling Club. You know the place, it’s right off Railroad Street, behind the cinema.
Or you could meet some of them at their places of work … such as an area Dick’s Sporting Goods store or a local liquor store. Or you could try to endear yourself to at least one of them by growing out a classic Upper Midwest mustache and talking up the Green Bay Packers.
John Shuster, Tyler George, John Landsteiner and Matt Hamilton won the gold medal in men’s curling here Saturday, defeating Sweden 10-7 and completing a story so wonderfully humble and honestly fun that Hollywood executives will be holding meetings all week asking a question they never thought they’d ever ask … can really make a movie about a team of curlers?
If not these guys, then never.
There’s John Shuster, the skip, a former bartender who now works at Dick’s and, after a ninth-place finish at the Sochi Olympics, was believed to be such a disappointing curler that USA Curling basically encouraged him to just retire rather than try to be here. He was also the skip of the 2010 U.S. Olympic team that finished 10th. He did win bronze as the lead at the 2006 Turin Games and had committed himself to one day “sing my national anthem and stand at the top of a podium.”
After those two disappointing finishes, though, USA Curling set up a new “high performance” program that would train a small group of promising curlers in hopes of no longer getting embarrassed. There was a tryout. Shuster, 35, didn’t make it despite being a three-time Olympian. Rather than take the hint, quit and just play for fun in Duluth, he formed a team of misfits to storm the curling castle.
He dubbed them
There’s Tyler George, 35, who manages George’s Liquor in Duluth, you know the place, it’s in that strip mall by the university, behind the Arby’s and next to Baja Tanning. He cites Michael Jordan as his sporting hero.
There’s John Landsteiner, 27, who almost didn’t join the team because of work conflicts. He’s project manager for an engineering company. “I actually walked away for a few months,” Landsteiner said. “[For a few months] they kept coming to me, ‘you’ve got to play, you’ve got to play.’” He decided to carve out sometime for the fun of it.
in the Games and proceeded to come in second to last. His s