U.S. Men's Curlers Make History with an Olympic Gold-Medal Win — After a Pep Talk From Mr. T
The United States men's curling team is officially bringing home a gold medal from the 2018 Winter Olympics — and they made a bit of history in the process
The United States men’s curling team is officially bringing home a gold medal from the 2018 Winter Olympics — and they made a bit of history in the process.
Team USA’s curlers faced off against Sweden on Saturday in the men’s curling final, completing a dramatic run in Gangneung, South Korea, that saw them beat out three-time defending Olympic champions Canada twice in less than a week to reach the gold-medal game.
Saturday’s match-up was the first curling final that the Americans have ever played. They defeated the Swedish team 10-7.
“We’ve played our best when our backs were up against the wall. We took it to another level this week,” the team’s Tyler George told reporters afterward. “Usually we’re 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’ve always felt like we were right in there,” team lead John Shuster said in a statement after winning the semifinals. “If we play our best game then our game is good enough to go against the best in the world and to be one of the best in the world.”
George joined in on the excitement in a tweet on Monday, writing, “Feeling an immense sense of pride from coming out on top in one of the greatest games I’ve ever been a part of. @TeamUSA for the win over Canada! Incredible atmosphere…our fans were amazing, and the shotmaking was a heavyweight fight. We stay alive!! #PyeongChang2018.”
Team USA also got a special call of encouragement this week from none other than Mr. T.
Turns out, the 1980s star isn’t shy about showing his love for the team.
“This is what you guys trained for!” the 65-year-old actor tweeted. “This is what you practice so hard and so long for… Go Win a Gold medal!”
Shuster had been to the Olympics three times (winning bronze in 2006, the only previous curling medal the U.S. has won) and was considered the most successful American curler in history, but when he applied for the U.S. high-performance program to train for international competition after the 2014 Sochi Games — he was shown the door.
According to the Boston Globe, Shuster then gathered a crew of other men who weren’t chosen to create a “Team of Rejects,” as they called it.
With this group, Shuster and the others beat the team that was selected ahead of them and forced their way into the program. The “Rejects” won a bronze at the world championships, a national title and the first 2018 U.S. Olympic trial, clinching their ticket to the Korean Winter Games.
Shuster, who until 2018 had never gone this far in the Olympics, said he felt inspired when he recently came across a story on Facebook about speed skater Dan Jansen, who returned to the Games over and over until he finally nabbed a gold.
“His story is my story,” Shuster told the Globe. “I just decided that, 50 years from now, when my kids are showing my grandkids — and maybe I’m dead and gone — video from the Olympics, I didn’t want all my videos to be me failing.”
In a special moment, Jansen gave the team a call before the final game against Sweden.
The U.S. men’s curlers have also proven they’re a bit social media savvy thanks to team member Chris Plys, who asked for bearded Twitter users to come together and shave their facial hair into a mustache.
This was a nod to teammate Matt Hamilton’s signature mustache, and Hamilton promoted the movement ahead of the team’s match-up with Canada.
With that, the “Hamilton Mustache Militia” was born. Fans everywhere have been sharing photos of their mustaches in the days since the call-to-action.
Yet, while they have fans in Hollywood such as Mr. T, the team did make headlines earlier this week when the curlers got into a Twitter spat with actress Kirstie Alley, who tweeted that she thought the sport was “boring.”
The team’s official Twitter account replied to her: “We’re not trying to be mean either but your movies weren’t exactly riveting theater Kirstie.”
Hamilton also hopped to the sport’s defense. “You’re entitled to your wrong opinion,” he tweeted, which led Alley to reply with three laughing emojis.
After a few more friendly exchanges, Alley finally tweeted that she may have a change of heart.
“Ok I’m gonna give it another chance!” she wrote. “My son loves watching Curling! He doesn’t love figure skating which I do so we can make each other give 2nd chances today!”
Whether they’ve won Alley over or not, the 2018 men’s team finally has a gold medal.
Shuster told the press after their win: “I kept smiling and I’m usually the quiet one. I told Matt, ‘I think it’s a dream. I’ll wake up tomorrow and this might not be real.’ It’s just fantastic.”