The U.S. men’s curling team defeated Denmark on Wednesday to improve to 5-4 in round robin play and advance to the medal rounds for the second straight Olympics.
USA curlers Matt Hamilton, Chris Plys, and John Shuster spoke to the media following the team’s win. Here’s what they had to say:
Hamilton said advancing to the tournament semifinals was “Goal 1 accomplished.” Goal 2, he said, is making it on the medal stand, and "hopefully the top.”
“We never intended to do it the easy way, we put our backs up against the wall and try and crawl our way out of it," Hamilton said.
I'm just really proud of the guys in the way we were able to get gritty and come through that round-robin even though it wasn't pretty.
Even though the U.S. is the defending Olympic gold medalists, Hamilton said they want to try to repeat that success for newcomer Chris Plys, who joined the team in 2019.
“We still have a guy (Plys) on this team who doesn't have a medal, so we really want to get on that podium," he said. "Anywhere would be good. Top would be best. Just leaving here with some hardware would be a dream come true.”
“It's an honor to be here and it's an honor to still be playing. Whatever happens, happens."
Plys said the U.S. got some help in reaching the semifinals from other teams below them in the standings.
“As the week went on, everybody seemed to be dropping games that maybe on paper you didn’t think were going to get dropped,” he said.
“We tried to have the same mentality of just focusing on what we could control, and we ended up getting a little bit fortunate as the week went on, with some teams dropping. That’s just curling.”
For Plys and Team USA, it’s now a completely new tournament.
“You know the first step was getting to here, and I think if you can’t get up for a semifinal at an Olympics, then I don’t know what to tell you.”
Coming into the 2022 Games and throughout the tournament, Team USA skip, Shuster, doesn’t have the same weight on his shoulders as he felt before the 2018 PyeongChang Games. He’s made sure to keep curling fun and just go with whatever happens.
“I honestly don't feel pressure anymore at all as far as for results,” Shuster said. “In order to get the results in PyeongChang, and honestly since then, I've just got out there playing with my buddies, my teammates, and try to play the best we can. Whatever is going to happen is going to happen and we're having fun with it.
“We're out here having fun, trying to make a ton of curling shots and hopefully good things happen.”
Shuster learned from his experience in the 2018 Games, and he’s used that throughout these Olympics.
“We worked our butts off to get here and we're working as hard as we can to make an attempt at as many shots as we can. All we can do is control playing well.
“The gold showed me the power of that experience, and I've just carried that with me from that day forward and all aspects of my life too.”
Team USA will face top seed Great Britain in the semifinals on Thursday at 7 a.m. ET. The U.S. is the only team to beat GBR in these Games.