CHISHOLM — John Shuster was back where it all began Thursday afternoon.
Shuster was honored with an open house/send off at the Chisholm Curling Club on Thursday, giving family, friends and fans a chance to wish good luck to him as he prepares to depart for South Korea to participate in his fourth Winter Olympics. Shuster will skip the U.S. team in the Olympics for the third straight time.
Shuster – a Chisholm native now living in Superior, Wis. – spent many hours learning and refining his game in the Chisholm Curling Club, and he said each of the three previous Olympics he has competed in were a little bit different. He earned a Bronze medal in the 2006 Olympics playing the lead position, and he has served as skip in the past two Olympics.
He said the current 2018 Olympic team has been together for more than three years and that the longevity of the team and the amount of time members have put in together should make a difference.
“We have been working incredibly hard and we are expecting to go there and play great, and if we play great we should have a good performance,” Shuster said. “Team chemistry is really important. Curling is the ultimate team sport where every player affects every shot so the ability to have that kind of developed chemistry as a team is something that is incredibly important and our team has got something special.”
Shuster said it is always fun to come back to Chisholm, where it all began. The event on Thursday was sponsored by the City of Chisholm, the Chisholm Chamber of Commerce and the Chisholm Curling Club.
“It is always fun to come back and be in this curling club where I threw my first rock and threw so many rocks as I was growing up,” Shuster explained. “It is really where my Olympic dream began so I always love to come back to this curling club because the chances are few and far between because I am gone so much in the winter time travelling all over the world. But it is always fun to be home.”
Besides Shuster, other members of the Olympic team are vice skip Tyler George, second Matt Hamilton, and leads John Landsteiner and Joe Polo. Shuster said the team was formed in the fall of 2014, right after the last Olympic cycle ended.
“Three-and-a-half years together should bode well. I know our team has had many strong performances together so it should be pretty much the same,” Shuster said. “Our team definitely has to go over there and treat the Olympics like we treated the National Championships, the Olympic Trials, the World Championships, in that same fashion and really know this is just another curling competition.
“We have had success at big curling competitions so we will obviously enjoy the Olympics experience and enjoy being a big part of Team USA. But we need to keep in mind that it is just a world curling competition that we have played many times together.”
Shuster said all 10 teams that will compete in curling in the Olympics are good and all have a chance to win.
“Our team has beaten every single team in the field at the Olympics within the last three years together,” Shuster said. “I am confident that if we go in there and play up to our capabilities that a Gold Medal is a possibility. I am not going to go there and predict that we are going to do that because it is probably the highest-ranked field that has ever been to an Olympics at the same time. Of the 10 teams that are there, I think nine of them are ranked in the top 20 so it is going to definitely be a meat grinder.
“But we have proven that when we play our best against those teams that we have what it takes to compete and give ourself a chance to win. We have to trust our preparation and be the team that we have built ourselves to be.”
Even though this will be his fourth Olympics, Shuster said you can’t take something like representing your country in the Olympics for granted.
“You are obviously honored and humbled every single chance you get to represent for anything, but to be able to do that on the biggest stage that our sport has and a lot of amateur sports have, we are incredibly honored to get that opportunity to do that,” Shuster said.