John Shuster

U.S. men’s curling team qualifies for Olympics

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The U.S. curling team is now the U.S. Olympic curling team.

John Shuster and the Americans won their fifth straight game, a winner-goes-to-the-Olympics finale, 8-5 over the Czech Republic at the Olympic Qualification Event in Fuessen, Germany, on Sunday.

“The butterflies of winning an opportunity like this, they never get old,” Shuster said. “That’s why we play this game.”

The U.S. blew it open in the eighth of 10 ends, scoring five points to take a 7-3 lead over the Czechs.

“Good end, boys,” a relaxed Shuster told his rink as Billy Squire‘s “The Stroke” played inside the Bundesleistungszentrum.

Shuster made his third U.S. Olympic Team after winning bronze in 2006 and skipping the Americans to last place in 2010, when he was temporarily benched. The 31-year-old is the manager of Pickwick Restaurant & Pub in Duluth, Minn.

He’ll be joined in Sochi by his vice skip, two-time Olympian Jeff Isaacson, a science teacher from Gilbert, Minn. The team also includes first-time Olympians John Landsteiner, a 23-year-old engineer from Duluth, and Jared Zezel, a 22-year-old Bemidji State student.

Craig Brown, 38, is also on the team as an alternate. Brown is the younger brother of the U.S. women’s Olympic team skip, Erika Brown. Craig Brown is likely to be the oldest male member of the U.S. Olympic Team across all sports.

The U.S. won five straight games after opening the eight-team Olympic Qualification Event with a 2-2 record. Two teams would qualify for the Olympics from the event, so the Americans needed an above-.500 record in round-robin play to have a chance.

“These guys worked their tails off,” Shuster said. “They’re some of the best in the business. I’m just extremely proud of how well out team has played the entire season, especially when we had our backs against the wall at the start of this week.”

Here’s the full Olympic men’s curling field (nation’s World Curling Federation ranking in parentheses):

Canada (1)
Great Britain (2)
Sweden (3)
Norway (4)
Switzerland (5)
Denmark (6)
China (7)
U.S. (8)
Germany (10)
Russia (12)

The Olympic men’s curling tournament begins Feb. 10, the Monday after the Opening Ceremony. The U.S. will open against Norway, which is known for its pants.

The U.S. has sent men’s and women’s curling teams to every Olympics since the sport was re-added to the Games in 1998.

Video: Usain Bolt races a bus in Buenos Aires

Final three Pyeongchang Olympic men’s hockey spots set to be filled

Anze Kopitar
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The 2018 Olympic men’s hockey field of 12 teams will be complete by the end of this weekend.

The last three spots will go to winners of three round-robin qualifying tournaments in Europe that run from Thursday through Sunday.

The Olympic Channel will stream the action.

The current Olympic men’s hockey groups (world ranking in parentheses):

Group A Group B Group C
Canada (1) Russia (2) Finland (3)
Czech Republic (6) USA (4) Sweden (5)
Switzerland (7) Slovakia (8) Qualifier
South Korea (23 — host) Qualifier Qualifier

Those three qualifiers will be the winners of these three tournaments this weekend:

Tournament 1 Tournament 2 Tournament 3
Belarus (9 — host) Germany (10) Norway (11 — host)
Denmark (13) Latvia (12 — host) France (14)
Slovenia (15) Austria (17) Kazakhstan (16)
Poland (20) Japan (21) Italy (18)

All of the Olympic medal contenders are among the nine nations already in the Pyeongchang field, but a few notables are vying for spots this weekend.

Belarus memorably upset Sweden in the 2002 Olympic quarterfinals and wound up fourth in Salt Lake City. It last competed in the Olympics in 2010. Belarus’ biggest competition in its qualifying tournament may be Slovenia, which won two games at the Sochi Olympics and is led by Los Angeles Kings All-Star Anze Kopitar.

Like Belarus, Germany also last played at the Olympics in 2010. More recently, it beat the U.S. at the World Championship in May, behind New York Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss. To get to Pyeongchang, Germany must top a group that includes host Latvia, which made the last four Olympics and beat Switzerland in Sochi.

Norway hosts the group with the least amount of recent Olympic experience. None of France, Kazakhstan or Italy made either of the last two Olympics. Norway ought to be favored, then, since it reached the 2010 and 2014 Olympics, though it lost every contest at both Winter Games. New York Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello stars for the Norwegians.

It’s unknown whether the NHL will send its players to the 2018 Olympics.

MORE: Canada holds Soviet-like dominance after another world hockey title

Four more Beijing 2008 medalists stripped after doping retests

FILE - In this Aug. 7, 2008 file photo, a protective fence shows a Beijing 2008 logo outside the National Stadium, known as the "Birds Nest", in Beijing. Three Olympic champion weightlifters from China and eight other medalists stand to be stripped of their titles after failing retests of their doping samples from the 2008 Olympics. Chinese gold medalists Cao Lei, Liu Chunhong and Chen Xiexia all tested positive for GHRP-2, which stimulates growth hormone production, while Liu also tested positive for the stimulant sibutramine.
(AP Photo/Petr David Josek, file)
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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — The IOC has stripped four more athletes — including three Russians — of medals from the 2008 Beijing Olympics after their doping samples were retested and came back positive.

A total of six athletes were sanctioned Wednesday by the International Olympic Committee based on reanalysis of their samples with improved techniques. They were among the 98 positive cases recorded in the retesting of samples from Beijing and the 2012 London Olympics.

The IOC says Tatyana Firova was stripped of her silver medal in the women’s 4×400-meter relay after testing positive for turinabol and other steroids. She also had her ninth-place finish in the individual 400m annulled.

Russia had already been stripped of the relay medal earlier this month when Anastasia Kapachinskaya tested positive.

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