Shuster ready to embrace ‘amazing Omaha fans’
United States men's skip eager to get going in city which holds fond memories
Team John Shuster is ready to embrace the support of the home crowd this week as his rink return to a city which holds a special place in their hearts.
Shuster take on China in session two on Wednesday as the Curling World Cup stops off for its North American leg at the Ralston Arena in Omaha, Nebraska.
For Team Shuster, it's a return to the same city in which they won the trials for the 2018 Winter Olympics – where they went on to become United States’ first Olympic champions in the sport.
“Our team is particularly fond of Omaha, as we recently won the Olympic trials there,” the skip reminisced. “The sports fans in Omaha were amazing last year. Getting a chance to visit these this past August, we saw the anticipation for the Curling World Cup coming to town as well!”
In PyeongChang, Team Shuster found themselves competing in front of a partisan crowd, with regular chants of “USA, USA, USA” and the skip believes the pressure of the crowd makes his rink more comfortable on the ice.
“I don’t think there’s any pressure when competing at home. We always feel more comfortable when the crowd is behind us,” he added.
“It was our crazy supportive fans that were with us in Korea that allowed our games at the Olympics to feel like home games that week.”
The United States have been drawn alongside Canada’s Team Jason Gunnlaugson – whose skip attended Shuster’s wedding a few years back - with their first round-robin encounter on Thursday 6 December.
And the 36-year-old skip says the Curling World Cup provides an opportunity to compete across the globe and in this case, on home ice.
“It’s never surprising to see Canada winning world curling events,” Shuster admitted.
“It definitely puts a target on their backs here at the second leg of the Curling World Cup. We look forward to our upcoming battles with Canada’s Team Gunnlaugson.
“The Curling World Cup is really providing the rest of the world, outside of Canada, more of a chance to play for big stakes. Every time us as athletes gets the chance to wear our countries on our backs is a special opportunity!”
The rink are avid fans of American football and were recently invited as special guests to a Minnesota Vikings game.
The rivalry between United States and Canada continues off the ice, with the four-time Olympian Shuster revealing that he and his teammates are leading the Canadians in a game of Fantasy Football.
“Our team are in a Fantasy Football league with a bunch of top Canadian players. It may be worth noting that Matt [Hamilton], Chris [Plys] and I are in a three-way tie at the top with 7-4 records in this 12-team league currently.”