The United States have won their first ever gold medal in curling with a stunning upset of Sweden in Saturdays final
The United States have won their first ever gold medal in curling with a stunning upset of Sweden on Saturday afternoon, capping a fairytale run from the brink of elimination less than a week ago.
A back-and-forth match settled into a 5-5 tie through seven ends before the US broke through with a rare five-point end in the eighth.
Swedish skipper Niklas Edin played a hit and roll to slip inside the cluster of American stones, but John Shuster responded with a double takeout that left five US stones all alone in the house, sending the partisan American crowd at the Gangneung Curling Centre into hysterics.
Sweden, who had lost only two of 10 matches in Pyeongchang entering Saturdays final, had the hammer in the ninth and would scratch two back, but it wasnt enough as the United States won 10-7 to secure a historic gold after Edin conceded on the last stone.
During the entire end you could kind of feel it building, [Swedens] margin for error got incredibly small, Shuster said of the decisive blow. I was happy to get a chance to make that last one for these guys for all the shots they made throughout the course of these games.
Six days ago the rink led by Shuster, who helmed the US sides that finished last and second from last at the previous two Olympics, appeared bound for another early exit when the Americans lost four of their first six matches in the round-robin stage.
But they rattled off three straight wins including an upset of Canada to make the medal round and followed it with a second win over the three-time defending Olympic champions in the semi-final. No US curling team, mens or womens, had ever beaten a Canadian team on Olympic ice before Shusters group did it twice in the span of four days.
Weve played our best when our backs were up against the wall, said George, the USA vice skip. We took it to another level this week. Usually were fighting and scrapping to get into the playoffs but for five days we were the best team in the world and we did it at the right time.
We always knew we had it in us, but to do it when it matters most is what Im most proud of overall.
Said Hamilton, the mustachioed second whos emerged as a social media star back home: Its unbelievable, this whole last four years. Just being on the cusp at the world championships. Getting bronze one year, coming fourth and fifth the other two years. We knew we were close, and to make the breakthrough here at the Olympics is just amazing.
The gold is only the second Olympic curling medal won by the United States after their bronze won by Pete Fensons rink, which included Shuster as lead thrower, at the 2006 Games in Torino. Switzerland beat Canada in Fridays third-place match to earn the bronze.