John Shuster wins Olympic curling trials, eyes repeat gold, record in Beijing

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John Shuster won the U.S. Olympic Trials, qualifying for a record fifth Olympic curling appearance and to defend his surprise 2018 gold medal.

Team Shuster rallied to take the best-of-three finals series over a team skipped by Korey Dropkin, winning the decider by a comfortable 5-4 on Sunday. Shuster, 39, and his quartet lost the opener in Omaha on Friday night, putting them in must-win scenarios on Saturday and Sunday nights.

Shuster delivered, just as he did at the 2018 Olympic Trials (losing the first game of the finals series) and at the PyeongChang Winter Games (starting 2-4, then securing five consecutive must-win games to bag the first U.S. Olympic curling title).

Dropkin, 26, was in position to become the youngest skip to win a U.S. Olympic Trials since 2006. Until a misfire in the sixth end of the second game, breathing life into Shuster. Two other men on Dropkin’s “Young Bucks” team are in their 20s. But Shuster’s group, with everyone 31 and older, made the American team of the future wait at least one more year.

“The hardest I’ve ever worked to beat anybody my entire life,” Shuster told Dropkin during post-game handshakes.

Shuster can become the first person to curl in five Olympic tournaments as medal events (since 1998; so can 46-year-old Torger Nergård, should Norway qualify), according to Olympedia.org.

Shuster is joined by 2018 gold-medal teammates Matt Hamilton and John Landsteiner and new team member Chris Plys, who replaced Tyler George when he retired two months after PyeongChang.

MORE: Plys, the man mistaken for a gold medalist

Nobody has won multiple Olympic gold medals in the men’s tournament. Shuster will enter as an underdog, as he did in PyeongChang after notable failures as a skip in 2010 (when he was briefly benched and Plys promoted) and 2014. His team finished fifth at the last two world championships in 2019 and earlier in 2021.

Sweden, skipped by Niklas Edin, won all three world titles in this Olympic cycle. It was Edin whom Shuster stunned in the 2018 Olympic final. Edin won four of his five games against Shuster since the start of 2019, according to Curlingzone.com.

The next significant curling event is the ongoing Canadian Olympic Trials, with playoffs next weekend.

Canada was a medalist in the first 11 Olympic curling tournaments since it returned as a medal sport in 1998, but it failed to make the podium in the men’s and women’s events in 2018.

Even so, three Olympic gold-medal skips are in the round-robin fields in Saskatoon — Brad Gushue (2006), Brad Jacobs (2014) and Jennifer Jones (2014).

Then in December, Plys and Vicky Persinger try to make the Olympic mixed doubles tournament in the last-chance qualifier in the Netherlands.

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12-year-old skateboarders earn medals at world championships

Chloe Covell
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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

Francesco Friedrich
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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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