Team USA 6, ROC 5 (11 ends)
It took an extra end, but Team USA’s gold medal defense started in the best way Wednesday.
Behind a draw shot that hit square on the button for one point in the 11th end, John Shuster and the U.S. men’s curling team defeated the Russian Olympic Committee, 6-5.
Shuster and the rest of Team USA won the gold medal in men’s curling in 2018.
Here’s how they won Game 1 of the 2022 Winter Games:
With the score tied at 1-1, Shuster’s hammer attempt to get a rock on the button for one comes up short, allowing ROC to steal two and take their first lead of the game.
Shuster again comes up light on his hammer throw, an attempt on a takeout that would have scored three for the U.S.
Instead, Team USA settles for one to cut ROC’s lead in half, 3-2, at the halfway mark.
USA ties the score at 3-3 after the hammer throw for Russia hit one of the corner guards and stopped in the 12-foot ring, allowing the U.S. to steal.
Russia scored one more to retake the lead in the seventh.
With an empty house on the final throw in the eighth, the U.S. had three choices – they could go for a draw for one to tie the score, they could try to blank the end to retain hammer in the ninth, or they could go for the most difficult option and try to knock one of the outside rocks into the house while also sitting the other rock for two points.
Shuster’s go-big-or-go-home mentality of course meant he chose the third option, and it worked. His hammer throw split shot worked to perfection, helping Team USA score two and again take the lead, 5-4.
Russia wanted to intentionally blank the end to keep hammer for the tenth, and mistakes by the U.S., unable to keep rocks in the house, made that possible. Russia went into the tenth trailing by one, but in the driver’s seat with the final throw.
ROC tried for the button for two points and the win. They couldn’t get it, but a measurement did prove they had one, forcing an extra end.
A double takeout by Shuster on the U.S.’s second to last shot gave the team two in the 12-foot circle.
ROC took out one on their final throw, but left the lane up for Shuster.
Team USA's captain finished by landing the final shot right on the button for the one they needed to give Team USA the win.
Team USA will return at 1:05 a.m. ET on Thursday to take on Sweden in a rematch of the 2018 gold medal game. Sweden opened the 2022 Olympics with a 6-4 win over China.
The ROC will also play at 1:05 a.m. ET on Thursday against China.