The U.S. men’s Olympic curling team made history on Saturday after they bested Sweden to win the squad’s first ever gold medal.
After 9 nail-biting rounds, the U.S. team took victory with a 10-7 score.
Team USA’s only previous medal was a bronze in the 2006 XX Olympic Winter Games in Italy.
This year’s win came after the team’s unlikely path to the finals. Earlier in the Games, they appeared headed for disappointment after losing four of their first six round-robin matches. But they managed to make a shock comeback by winning the three remaining games to advance to the semi-finals, where they beat Canada–– a three-time gold medal-winning team.
“It’s a little surreal right now still, just coming off of where we were to where we are now,” American curler Tyler George said. “It feels like two different tournaments. One’s a dream and one’s a reality. Fortunately for us the winning streak is the reality, but we’re trying not to get too excited.”
Saturday was also vindication for a group once deemed the “Team of Rejects.” Skip John Shuster, whose five-point double takeout cinched the team’s win, had in 2014 been left out of elite curling program after his weak performance during the 2014 Sochi Games. The Wisconsite got in shape, lost weight, and rallied other underdog players, including George, a Minnesota liquor store owner known for his horrifyingly decrepit shoes.
Team Shuster would go on to take first in two U.S. national championships as well as the November qualifying trials for the PyeongChang Olympics.
It was a real Cinderella story.