The U.S. men’s curling team kept their heads steady and took a 7-5 win over Denmark to advance to the men’s curling playoffs at the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
After they won the gold medal in 2018, the U.S. men have reached the semifinal in back-to-back Olympic curling tournaments for the first time, joining the company of traditional curling powers such as Canada, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.
Thanks to China’s upset victory over Switzerland and loss by the Russian Olympic Committee, Team Shuster avoided a complicated tiebreaker scenario and controlled their destiny going into the game.
A draw by Chris Plys on his last stone had the U.S. with four inside and the hammer, but Shuster accidentally took out an American stone on his first and missed on his second to give Denmark a 2-0 lead.
Krause had a double takeout on his first shot of the third end, but with one American stone still in the circle the Americans added on to tie it at two.
Shuster set up a steal on his first stone of the fourth end, drawing it in to leave the U.S. with two alone in the house. A takeout by Shuster on his next followed by a huge miss by Denmark gave the Americans a 5-2 lead and control of the game.
The U.S. maintained its lead in the fifth end, forcing Denmark to one after a miss by Henrik Holtermann.
After blanking the sixth to keep the hammer, the Americans settled for one in the seventh to make it 6-3.
A double takeout by American Matt Hamilton on his last throw of the eighth helped set up a steal of one when Krause missed with the hammer to go up 7-3.
Denmark got two in the ninth, but the U.S. played defense with a lead in the final end, sealing the outcome.
The Americans have come a long way since struggling at the 2010 and 2014 Olympics, going 2-7 in both to finish at or near the bottom of the standings. Shuster was essentially cut from the team after 2014, but earned his way back and led the U.S. to gold in 2018.
The U.S. team’s 5-4 record in round-robin play might not be intimidating to the eye, but the Americans came into the Olympic playoffs in 2018 with that same record on their way to making history.
The American men will face Great Britain at 7:05 a.m. E.T. Thursday in the semifinals. The top-seeded Brits suffered their only loss of round robin play against the U.S. men, 7-9.