Curling fans are already well aware of one member of the U.S. men’s curling team after Matt Hamilton competed in the mixed doubles event. Hamilton is back as the No. 2 on the men’s team, joining skip John Shuster, lead John Landsteiner, third Tyler George, and alternate Joe Polo for the four man U.S. team in the men’s curling competition.
While the U.S. team isn’t considered one of the favorites in PyeongChang, they do have experience and an outside chance at a medal when round robin play begins Tuesday night.
Here’s everything you need to know about each member of Team USA:
John Shuster, Skip
35 years old from Chisholm, Minnesota
Olympic experience – three previous, bronze medal in 2006
Shuster was a member of the only U.S. team to ever medal in Olympic curling when he won bronze in the 2006 Torino games. He now will make his third straight appearance as the skip of the men’s team. Since the last Olympics, as leader of the U.S. team he led them to a fifth place finish at the 2015 World Championships, third place in 2016 and fourth place in 2017.
Shuster said the most important role of a skip is “really diving into the strategy of the sport and really trying to understand what makes their team and teammates great.”
The biggest change for Shuster since 2014 has been a new commitment to the gym. He’s lost 30 pounds since the last Olympics in which the U.S. finished in ninth place out of 10 teams. He said he prepared for PyeongChang much differently than past Games.
“I feel like I’ve invested the same amount as far as planning my day around curling, but I’ve made a huge physical investment over the last four years,” he said. “Which, as a skip, you’re like well it’s not that
important, you skip rocks, that kind of stuff, but… just being in that better shape, I travel way better, it’s easier too, I really feel like young and ready and that’s s a pretty big adjustment for me. I used to not go to the gym and now if I don’t go to the gym on a particular day I feel like I’m missing something. So it’s been a fun transition.”
Fun fact – Shuster is a diehard Minnesota Twins fan, and attended Game 7 of the 1991 World Series
John Landsteiner, lead
27 year olds from Duluth, Minnesota
Olympic experience – one previous, 2014
Although Landsteiner is the youngest member of the U.S. team, he’s actually the longest tenured member of Shuster’s rink, having played lead in the Sochi games four years ago. He’s been with Shuster ever since, playing on all three of the past World Championships.
Landsteiner, also known as “Lance,” “Lancer,” “Landcruiser,” and “Landrover” has been curling ever since he was a little kid when he would go to the rink with his dad. He even met his wife, Kelsy, through curling when they played together on a league in college.
Fun fact – Off the ice, Landsteiner works full-time as an engineer, and has a degree in civil engineering from the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
Matt Hamilton, second
28 years old from McFarland, Wisconsin
Olympic experience – no previous, played in mixed doubles in PyeongChang
Hamilton joined Shuster and company in 2014, just after the last Olympics, and has been the team’s second every year since. Hamilton became a fan favorite in the mixed doubles event he played with his sister, Becca, thanks in large part to his signature mustache, red, white and blue tennis shoes and lime green beanie he keeps in his back pocket for good luck.
Hamilton said his role on the team is to keep the positive energy high and make sure everyone is having fun. While the U.S. struggled in the last two Olympics, much of that was due to the fact that the teams were thrown together at the last minutes. This year, he’s much more confident given how much time they’ve all spent together on the ice.
“This team that he has this year, this is our fourth season,” Hamilton said. “We’ve traveled a lot, last year we were on the road for 120 days, we’ve got an understanding with each other and a different level of just knowing where we’re at mentally, physically, what the other guys need to hear and not hear to play their best going forward.”
Fun fact – Hamilton makes his own curling shoes. He takes regular Nikes and adds “little bit of glue, Velcro and a lot of love.”
Tyler George, third
35 years old from Duluth, Minnesota
Olympic experience - none
George is making his first Olympic appearance, but has experience both on a team and as a skip that he brings to Team USA. He’s most known for excelling in strategy and making clutch throws when needed. He joined Shuster’s rink following the Sochi Games.
He won a U.S. Men’s Curling Championship in 2010, and skipped his own team in the 2011 games, where he lost in the finals.
George was destined to become a curler. His parents played and ran the Duluth Curling Club in Duluth, Minnesota, and he jokes that his first bed was a roasting pan in the club’s kitchen. He officially began playing the sport when he was 10 years old.
Fun fact – George owns and operates a liquor store in his hometown.
Joe Polo, alternate
35 years old from Duluth, Minnesota
Olympic experience – one previous, 2006 bronze medal
Polo was a member of the U.S. team 12 years ago that won Olympic bronze, and, after missing the last two Games, now returns as an alternate in PyeongChang.
While some may not see being an alternate as much, Shuster says Polo actually fills a big role on the team.
“Our alternate in 2006 was essentially another coach, and we won a bronze medal and he got a medal,” Shuster said. “Joe has traveled with us, played sparingly… also brings a lot to the table in terms of being a great teammate and helping each one of us be the best version of ourselves.
“And now the alternate, it’s different than it used to be. Now there are night practices where you are matching stones. Because each rock looks identical but they might have a tiny bit of characteristic where maybe it wants to curl a little bit more and maybe it doesn’t glide as far as your other stones. And Joe is one of the best rock matchers in the world, seriously, so in night practice and when we get to a game our coaching staff give us a set of curling rocks and we’re throwing them in this order and this is why, we have the confidence when you have the rock in your hand that it’s the best rocks that we possibly have. And Joe and our two coaches, but mostly Joe who’s throwing it, it’s becoming a much more important part of curling now.”
Fun fact – Polo enjoys hiking and nature in his free time and said "Nothing is more relaxing than floating around in a boat."
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