John Shuster and the U.S. curling team are back to shake things up on the Olympic stage, but this time they have a target on their back.
Their first test will come Wednesday morning at 7:05 a.m. EST against the Russian Olympic Committee.
In PyeongChang, Shuster led the American squad to a gold medal — the first for the U.S. They came back from the brink of elimination multiple times, besting perennial powerhouse Sweden in the gold medal match. Shuster was named flag bearer at the opening ceremony in Beijing for his contribution.
Underdogs no more, they can expect to face the best in Beijing.
Sweden, second all-time in curling medals at the Olympics, is looking to cut into Canada’s two-medal lead by picking up a win in the men’s event. Led by skip Niklas Edin, the Swedes are the gold medal favorite to maintain their period of dominance, having won the last three world titles since 2018.
Their stiffest competition will be the youthful team of Great Britain. While not known for being a contender in curling, Great Britain has assembled a young, talented team from Scotland that could be a serious threat to the Swedes.
Team USA are not expected to win gold, but they aren’t out of contention for a medal, if Shuster and his team can muster up some of that same magic from PyeongChang. Lucky for him, much of that championship team is back including second Matt Hamilton and lead John Landsteiner. Chris Plys — who competed in the mixed event earlier this week — is taking Tyler George’s spot as third and Colin Hufman will serve as alternate. The Land of 10,000 Lakes is well represented as Shuster, Plys and Hufman all hail from northern Minnesota.
The men’s competition is set to begin Wednesday morning at 7:05 EST on NBC. The round robin games run through Thursday, Feb. 16, followed by the semifinals and medal matches.