It was 4 A.M. on the east coast in the United States when the U.S. Men’s Curling Team sealed their gold medal victory at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, but you wouldn’t know it from the reactions. The interest and story that followed Team Shuster through this Olympics was a highlight for many following along online. There was a celebrity element tossed in, some pop culture references, and a lot of fun for a sport that plenty of people likely had no clue about.
As NPR describes, the victory for John Shuster was a long time in the making. After winning bronze at the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics, Team USA had some stumbles at the events that followed. Shuster and fellow teammate John Landsteiner were forced to make their own team dubbed “The Rejects” and ended up working their way back to the top. The victory on Saturday was the culmination of that journey:
The U.S. win came after pressure and intensity had steadily built in what was for a long while a back-and-forth game, with each team’s curlers placing their shots well.
The Americans used a blockbuster eighth end to seize a 10-5 advantage that proved to be insurmountable. The two sides played perfunctorily from there, with the U.S. keeping the house clean of enough stones to be a threat. Sweden added two points in a quick ninth end to trail, 10-7.
As the U.S. played defense and focused on preserving its lead, Sweden’s skipper Niklas Edin took his last stone, whirled it around for a moment and gently flung it down the sheet of ice toward the other end, conceding defeat with grace.
The shot that sealed the victory is something to see and helped many dub the victory “Miracle On Ice 2.0” in reference to the 1980 Men’s Hockey final from the 1980 Winter Olympics:
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 24, 2018
The come from behind victory for Team Shuster captured the attention of folks online, especially as they moved forward to the gold medal game:
And their biggest fan might’ve been A-Team star Mr. T, getting so involved that he actually called the team before their final run:
If that wasn’t enough, the excitement for the medal matchup was clear from others on Twitter — even if they didn’t fully understand the sport. The early morning hours were not going to ruin anything:
The live reaction to the victory was even better, with folks cheering the historic win almost like it was an event other than curling:
And even though they ended up getting the wrong medals during the ceremony, the team took the stage together and left with that championship feeling you just can’t take away.
“I didn’t want that to be my story,” Shuster said afterward, referencing ninth and 10th place finishes at his last two Olympics. “I didn’t want that to define me, to define this team. We came out and had fun with each other, and look what happened.”
The congratulations poured in shortly after the win, coming from fans, fellow Olympians, and others in the sports world:
But figure skater Alex Shibutani likely had the best and lamest reaction to the victory:
And you better believe Mr. T was with them till the end: