Team Shuster are the toast of Omaha
United States beat Sweden in repeat of February's Olympic final
Team John Shuster repeated their Olympic victory over Sweden's Team Niklas Edin to win Curling World Cup leg two at Omaha's Ralston Arena.
Shuster's rink, cheered on by a patriotic Nebraskan crowd, ran Sweden out of stones in a tight, tactical 3-1 victory. In doing so, they booked their tickets for May's Curling World Cup Grand Final in Beijing and banked a winners' cheque of $USD 20,000.
A crucial moment of a low-scoring encounter came at the end of the seventh end. With United States lying two, Sweden skip Edin decided to take out one of the shot stones to keep the hammer for the final end. That of course, meant they were 3-1 down, instead of 2-2, and it was a risk that ultimately didn't pay off.
In the final end, Sweden were run out of stones. Edin produced a lovely soft-weight take-out but Shuster blasted it away, leaving three American shot stones and only one Swedish stone left to throw. The world champion from Ornskoldsvik offered his hand.
"What a great tournament," said Minnesota native Shuster. "There was some great curling out here and some really great teams. I’m really proud to get a win any time you have your country on your back.
"It was a lot of fun [to play in front of home crowd] - they were into it. For me, it’s always been easier every time we have lots of fans in the stands and we definitely got that feeling here this week, especially this afternoon."
On Edin's decision to surrender a point and keep the hammer for the final end, Shuster said: "We would have done the exact same thing. With the way curling is this day and age with the five rock rule, you have a much better chance at winning when you’re down two with the hammer rather than tied up. That’s some of the stuff we’re going to learn here with this new rule.
"I hope that we get as good of ice [in the Grand Final in Beijing] and we go and play as good as here and take home a Grand Final for the United States."
The final was largely a cagey yet intriguing game with only a single point scored in the opening four ends - a steal by Team Shuster in the second end.
Even when Edin did put a point on the board it was with a reluctant draw to surrender the hammer in the fifth, and Shuster was forced to do the same in the sixth for a 2-1 lead. Then came Edin's bold, but fateful, decision to surrender a point in the seventh.
On that big call, Edin said: "If you take one there, you’re toast, you’ve got five per cent chance to win the game. It’s a difficult call to give up one there, but it’s a bad situation and I obviously had no choice."
On the match overall, he offered: “It wasn’t a very well played game, we couldn’t figure out the ice. Both teams missed both high and low side.
"When they stole one we knew we had to keep the hammer; with the five-rock rule you need the hammer. They didn’t take too many chances and we didn’t want to take any risks either in not getting that deuce back. We took too long before we started playing well enough to give ourselves a chance.
"It’s always nice to play a good team, especially with their home-crowd too, you get some more spectators coming. I’m a little annoyed we couldn’t play better in this game and give it a better chance."
Team Edin now have only a few weeks before the next Curling World Cup event in their own country. Jonkoping hosts the third leg, starting from January 30.
"We’re looking forward to being on the home field and curling rink where the ice will probably be a bit more consistent," said the 33-year-old. "I’m looking forward to a really good event there and I think it’s going to be the best Curling World Cup so far."