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Q&A with John Shuster

Curling: 2017 Ford World Men's Curling Championship
Walter Tychnowicz

Q&A with John Shuster

Curler John Shuster on his hidden talent, personal motto and how being a parent made him a better athlete

How influential were your parents in your athletic career and in what ways?

Both of my parents were extremely active supporters of youth sports, always volunteering and helping coach. They both curled recreationally and exposed me to curling as a kid. I didn't start playing until I was 13 years old though. 

Do you have kids?

Yes. Luke, 4 and Logan, 2.

Being a parent has allowed me to compete more fearlessly. Because I know that being a parent will always be what matters most to me, I have been able to play with less pressure and a different perspective on life. My kids also think it's pretty cool traveling the world with dad. 

Do you have another full-time job or business? How do you balance work and training?

I work at Dick's Sporting Goods as part of the Contenders Program. I try to work just enough to offset the costs of daycare, so only once or twice a week.

Do you have any pets?

We have a German Short-haired Pointer named Hazel. She is mainly our pet, but loves dock jumping, chasing tennis balls, and spends a lot of the fall hunting with my dad and his GSP. I usually get a chance or two to hunt with them as well.

In your hometown of Chisholm, Minnesota, what are your favorite spots to relax, eat out, etc.?

Shuster Shores (my parents’ house). In Chisholm, Choppy's Pizza is a must. The Chisholm High School Auditorium is also amazing!  In Side Lake, the 4th of July parade and Bimbo's Octagon for pizza and wings. In Hibbing, I go to the Hibbing Curling Club for the Last Chance Bonspiel.

What’s your typical training day/schedule?

I drop the kids off at daycare around 8:00 am then head to the gym. Grab a quick bite to eat, practice around noon and housework in the afternoon, although most days during the season we are at events competing.

What is your favorite workout or fitness trend?

I really like bike riding, but am starting to enjoy Olympic lifting as well.

What’s the most grueling work out you’ve ever done?

Climbing the Manitou Incline near Colorado Springs followed by a full workout!

What would people be surprised to learn about training for the Olympics?

It may not seem like full-time job training for 3-4 hours a day, but planning and timing are such that. You really need 6-8 hours to properly prepare to get those 3-4 hours in!

What does a typical day of eating look like during training?

I eat a lot of protein; usually, 2 meal replacement shakes a day, 2-3 other snacks and one meal.

If you are to indulge, what's your go-to snack or meal?

I love a good steak and a loaded baked potato. Ice cream is a great treat every so often.

What is your earliest memory of doing or seeing curling?

I remember going to the curling club as a young child, watching for 10-15 minutes then begging my mom to let me go play pool. The strategy is what kept my attention for 10-15 minutes. I also tried to always watch my dad's shots.

What's your earliest or favorite memory of watching the Olympics?

I remember watching the Olympic Trials for curling in 1997, and having curled for 3 to 4 years, I thought I could get to where those athletes were someday.

Was there a specific “breakthrough” moment/competition when you finally realized you could compete in your sport at a high enough level to reach the Olympics?

Making the playoffs at the Duluth Cash Spiel while still in high school and taking the Olympic team to the last rock. 

What's something cool, weird intense about your sport that people don't normally see? What’s the hardest part of your sport?

The top-level athletes often play in recreational leagues with friends or family members. Sometimes we even lose a few games!

Are there any misconceptions about your sport that you would like to clear up?

Curling has become quite physically advanced in recent years.

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Have you ever worked with a sports psychologist? If so, how did it help you?

Yes. I feel they make you see some things and understand some things that allow for the maximum understanding of self and focus.

What's the best piece of advice you've ever received

Breathe and slow down.

What's a big obstacle that you've overcome in your life?

Failing at the 2010 Olympics.

What is your biggest fear when competing?

Letting my teammates down.

What advice would you give to a young child just starting in curling?

You have to learn the strategy inside and out. 

Who is your most interesting teammate?

John Landsteiner. He is incredibly quiet in general but has so much personality and inner fire. 

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Who is your biggest rival? Is it friendly or contentious?

Craig Brown, but we're friendly off the ice. 

What was the best part of living in the Athletes’ Village during the Games?

I love getting to know all the other members of Team USA. Sharing experiences and stories are always awesome!

If you have already won an Olympic medal, where do you keep it?

Yes, it's in a case in its spot at my house.

What is your favorite perk of being an elite Olympic athlete?

The swag and EAHI (Elite Athlete Health Insurance).

Do you have a lucky charm or something you can’t compete without?

FaceTime with my family every night. 

Do you have any hidden talents?

Whistling, not that hidden if you've ever been around me!

What’s your favorite animal?

 I love catching lake trout. They are such gorgeous fish and they taste good too.

What charities do you support? How did you become involved?

I support the House of Hearts Celebrity Curling Bonspiel. Myself as well as several members of our club organize and run it annually. We've raised over 300,000 dollars for various local charities in 15 years. 

If you were not an athlete, what would you be doing?

I would own a small restaurant.

When you have time off, what would constitute a perfect day for you?

Hanging out with my family at a lake, swimming, boating, fishing, and eating good food.

How do you unwind after a competition?

Cuddling with my wife and kids.

What's something quirky about you that people would be amused to learn?

I rarely stop whistling when at home. My 4-year-old already learned how to whistle so he could be like me.

What's your personal motto?

I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason.

What are some of your hobbies?

I fish weekly, golf 3 to 4 times a month, hunt a few times in the fall, and play fantasy football.

What is your music of choice while training?

I listen to anything new in country. I just put on Pandora Radio and let them pick the songs.

Do you have any celebrity crushes?

Rachel McAdams and Mila Kunis.

Outside of training for your sport, what physical routine makes you feel you’re best?

Pulling my kids behind the bike in the Burley.

What are five must-have items you always keep in your gym bag?

Shoes, flip flops, water bottle, earbuds, change of clothes.

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Have you been to South Korea before? What are you most looking forward to about the Games being hosted in South Korea?

No, I look forward to seeing a new country's take on the Olympic celebration.

Do you like kimchi or any other Korean foods?

Korean BBQ.

Have you ever done karaoke? What’s your go-to karaoke song?

Yes, I can do most anything Toby Keith.

What will success look like for you in PyeongChang? What are your goals?

Playing our best as a team, and finishing on the podium.

Does your family have any unique holiday traditions?

My family has an annual curling competition called the Shuster Rooster. We've missed it due to bad weather the past two years though.

What’s on your Christmas or holiday list this year?

A gold medal from the Olympic Trials.

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