Shuster shines for U.S. as Canada drops 3rd straight in Olympics

1st time Canadians have ever lost to rivals in Olympic curling

Shuster shines for U.S. as Canada drops 3rd straight in Olympics
U.S. skip John Shuster made the game-winning shot in the 11th end, beating Canada 9-7 Monday in South Korea. © Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

By Nick Murray, CBC Sports

United States skip John Shuster shot the lights out Monday against Canada, capped by a takeout for two in the 11th end to beat the three-time defending Olympic champions 9-7 in round-robin play in Gangneung, South Korea.

Shuster, in his third Olympics, shot 82 per cent in the win, but came through with big shots when they mattered, as his team (3-4) became the first U.S. rink ever to beat Canada in Olympic curling.

"I spent some time with the family last night and decided that my Olympic experience this time was pretty awful. That wasn't what I'm about," Shuster told CBC's Joan McCusker when asked what the difference was in his game.

"Really, I wanted to be the best version of myself today."

And he was. Coming into the game Shuster was shooting 73 per cent on the tournament — his low point being a 54 per cent performance in a blowout loss to Japan on Saturday. But throughout the game, Shuster made tough shots to force Koe into situations to only score a single.

"That's not Kevin's fault. We're not here if it's not for Kevin," Canadian third Marc Kennedy said.

"Kevin's the best player in the world. John [Shuster] played really well. I don't remember a shot John missed."

Koe unfazed by missed shots

After Shuster scored a single in the first, he tried a double takeout on his last rock in the second to put the pressure on Canada. The U.S. skip missed, but managed to knock out one Canadian stone, allowing Koe to draw for a pair.

But Shuster made up for it in the third. With Canada sitting shot rock, and well guarded, he played a stellar running takeout, clearing a Canadian stone to score a pair, after a measurement, to make it 3-2 for the Americans.

Koe again was limited to draw for a single in fourth, after Schuster picked a Canadian stone on his last rock. Then Shuster came through again in the fifth, this time playing a tough raise, tapping the U.S. stone onto the button for a single to make it 4-3.

The U.S. stole one in the sixth after Koe missed a running double on last rock. Koe narrowed the gap in the seventh, scoring a single to make it 5-4.

Schuster made his biggest mistake in the eighth. After Koe played a freeze against Canada's stone in the four foot with his last stone, Shuster needed to stick his draw on the left side of the button to score. But his draw was heavy, allowing Canada to steal one to tie the game.

Shuster would get it back though. In the ninth and the U.S. sitting shot stone, Koe's last rock to force Shuster into throwing for a single was well short of the house, leaving the American with a tap for two.

Koe came back in the 10th, playing a tap on last rock to score two and force an extra end, before Shuster played an out-turn take out, narrowly missing the Canadian centre guard on its way into the house for the win. 

"They played well. We played well. Just comes down to some big shots here and there. I just missed a couple," Koe said.

With the loss, Koe's team (4-3) dropped its third consecutive match at these Olympics, with matches against Japan (3-3) and Denmark (2-5) left.

The Canadian skip said he's not too worried though, and much like the Americans before their big win, Team Canada will spend some time with family and friends Monday night, before their Tuesday morning showdown with Japan.

"It's not like we're out there missing a ton of shots. Just got to tidy up a few things," Koe said.

"I pride myself on making some big shots and that game I just missed a couple I needed."