John Shuster rallies at Olympic curling trials, keeps gold-medal defense alive

John Shuster
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Young Korey Dropkin went for the jugular with the biggest shot of his curling life — and missed.

That was the opening John Shuster needed to keep his hopes of defending his Olympic title in February.

Team Shuster rallied past Dropkin 7-3 to force a third and deciding game Sunday in the U.S. Olympic Trials finals in Omaha.

The women’s finals continue later Saturday (NBCSN and NBCOlympics.com), with Tabitha Peterson‘s favored team up 1-0 over Cory Christensen in their best-of-three series.

CURLING TRIALS: Broadcast Schedule

Dropkin, after cruising to an 8-4 win on Friday, led 2-1 and had the hammer in the sixth end of the second game of the best-of-three series Saturday night. With that last shot, Dropkin had a difficult shot to score five and essentially clinch his first Olympic berth.

But he misfired, allowing Shuster to steal two, take the lead and eventually close it out.

“He could have just drawn for one, and they have a two-point lead and they still have huge control of the game,” Shuster said on NBCSN. “We got, obviously, fortunate there.”

That final shot in the sixth breathed life into team Shuster, which is used to heart-pounding drama. Shuster also rallied from a game down in the 2018 Olympic Trials finals, then in PyeongChang took five consecutive must-wins en route to gold.

Dropkin, 26, was on the team that succumbed to Shuster in the Olympic Trials finals four years ago. He went back to skipping his own team the following season and won his first senior national title in May.

But Shuster wasn’t at those nationals after placing fifth at the world championship the month prior. In fact, Shuster has won every national tournament at which he’s competed dating to 2017.

Dropkin went into Omaha with a 1-4 record against Shuster as skips, with the victory back in 2016, according to Curlingzone.com.

But team Dropkin, the top challenger to Shuster, was the only quartet to challenge the Olympic champs in double round-robin play, forcing an extra end in defeat and then winning 6-1 after Shuster had already clinched the top finals seed.

Now they’re 2-2 against each other in Omaha.

On Sunday, Shuster will either earn his fifth Olympic berth, or Dropkin will become the youngest skip to win an Olympic Trials since 2006 (Shuster’s first Olympics).

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12-year-old skateboarders earn medals at world championships

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At the world skateboarding championships, 12-year-olds Chloe Covell from Australia and Onodera Ginwoo from Japan earned silver and bronze medals, respectively, in Sunday’s street finals.

In the women’s event, Covell took silver behind Brazilian 15-year-old Rayssa Leal, who was a silver medalist herself at the Tokyo Games.

Frenchman Aurélien Giraud, a 25-year-old who was sixth in skateboarding’s Olympic debut in Tokyo, won the men’s final in the United Arab Emirates. Ginwoo was third behind Portugal’s Gustavo Ribeiro.

The top Americans were Olympic men’s bronze medalist Jagger Eaton in sixth and 15-year-old Paige Heyn in seventh in the women’s event.

Nyjah Huston, a six-time world champion who placed seventh in Tokyo, missed worlds after August surgery for an ACL tear.

Up to three men and three women per nation can qualify per event (street and park) for the 2024 Paris Games. World rankings come June 2024 determine which Americans qualify.

In Tokyo, four of the 12 skateboarding medalists were ages 12 or 13.

Japan’s Kokona Hiraki, then 12, won silver in women’s park to become the youngest Olympic medalist since 1936, according to Olympedia.org. Japan’s Momiji Nishiya, then 13, won women’s street and became the youngest gold medalist in an individual event since 1936.

Worlds conclude this week with the men’s and women’s park events. The finals are Saturday.

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Francesco Friedrich, most decorated bobsledder in history, rebounds for 12th world title

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A week after his first major championships defeat in seven years, German Francesco Friedrich returned to his winning ways to close the world bobsled championships on Sunday.

Friedrich’s four-man sled won the world title by 69 hundredths of a second over British and Latvian sleds that tied for silver, combining times from four runs over the last two days in St. Moritz, Switzerland. It marked Great Britain’s first world championships men’s bobsled medal since 1966.

Geoff Gadbois drove the lone U.S. sled in the field, finishing 18th.

Friedrich, the most decorated bobsledder in history, extended his records with a fifth consecutive world four-man title and 12th world championship between two- and four-man events.

Germany swept all four titles at bobsled worlds with four different drivers taking gold.

Friedrich had won 12 consecutive Olympic or world titles before taking two-man silver at worlds last week in St. Moritz, Switzerland. He was dethroned in that event by countryman Johannes Lochner.

Friedrich has been hampered recently by a muscle injury from sprint training in late December. Going into worlds, Lochner had won four consecutive World Cup two-man races, while Hall won the last two World Cups in four-man.

Friedrich, 32, said before this season that he plans to make the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games his final competition. Friedrich and push athlete Thorsten Margis can break the record of four career Olympic bobsled gold medals that they currently share with retired Germans Andre Lange and Kevin Kuske.

The World Cup season concludes with stops in Igls, Austria, and Sigulda, Latvia, the next two weekends.

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