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John Shuster, U.S. beat Sweden in Olympic curling final rematch

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John Shuster‘s rink beat a Swedish team skipped by Niklas Edin on Sunday in a rematch of the PyeongChang Olympic final. Shuster and co. notched their first tournament title since the Winter Games.

Shuster, along with Olympic gold-medal teammates John Landsteiner and Matt Hamilton, plus new team member Chris Plys, won 3-1 in the final of a stop of the new World Cup in Omaha, Neb.

“We think that this team can be not just a Grand Slam team but a top five team in the world,” Plys, who replaced Tyler George as vice skip this season, said, according to USA Curling. “So far on our performance together I think we’re on the right track toward that.”

It was shades of PyeongChang last week as Shuster’s team rallied from defeat early in the tournament to run the table through the final. At the Olympics, the U.S. underdogs won their last six games. In Omaha, it was the last five.

The Americans qualified for the eight-team Grand Final at the 2022 Olympic host Beijing in May.

The world championship is the first week of April in Lethbridge, Alberta. Shuster’s teams finished third, fourth and fifth at three world championship appearances in the last Olympic cycle before skipping last season’s worlds amid the post-Olympic whirlwind.

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Russian curler banned four years in Olympic doping case

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland — Russian curling medalist Alexander Krushelnitsky was banned for four years Tuesday in a doping case which cost Russia the right to fly its flag at the Winter Olympic Closing Ceremony.

Krushelnitsky won the bronze medal in mixed doubles with his wife Anastasia Bryzgalova — the first medal for Russian athletes at the PyeongChang Games — but they were stripped of the result after he tested positive for the banned substance meldonium.

Krushelnitsky argued that he was spiked with meldonium by an unnamed third party but the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled the “arguments were not supported by reliable or credible evidence.”

CAS didn’t give Krushelnitsky any reduction on the standard four-year ban because he “could not establish that his use of meldonium was non-intentional.”

Russian athletes were not allowed to compete under their own flag in PyeongChang as punishment for past doping offenses. They had to pass extra vetting before the games and competed in neutral uniforms as “Olympic Athletes from Russia.”

Krushelnitsky’s doping case and another involving a bobsledder helped delay the lifting of the sanction until after the Closing Ceremony.

Russian Curling Federation president Dmitry Svishchev said Krushelnitsky planned to appeal.

“We disagree utterly with the ruling issued against our athlete and will wholeheartedly continue to support and defend his rights and to demand new investigations in this case both in Russia and abroad,” he said in a statement.

Krushelnitsky has 21 days to appeal the ruling.

The other Russian who tested positive in PyeongChang, bobsled pilot Nadezhda Sergeeva, accepted an eight-month ban in October. In that case, the International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation accepted her positive test for the heart medication was because she consumed a contaminated product.

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NFL Pro Bowlers to face Olympic champions at curling event

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Retired NFL Pro Bowlers Jared Allen and Marc Bulger are one half of a team entered in a World Curling Tour event in Minnesota this weekend.

Their first opponents on Friday? A team of PyeongChang Olympic champions John ShusterMatt Hamilton and John Landsteiner, plus 2010 Olympian Chris Plys.

The event will stream here, according to Allen’s social media.

Allen was first linked to serious curling in February via U.S. Hockey Hall of Famer Lou Nanne on a Minnesota ESPN radio show. Nanne said Allen told him at a dinner.

“[Allen} says, I’m giving myself four years to make the Olympic curling team,” said Nanne, a 1968 U.S. Olympian.

Allen and Bulger are on a team with 2010 Olympian John Benton and fellow veteran curler Hunter Clawson.

Allen, 36, retired in 2016 after a 12-year NFL career as a defensive end that included five Pro Bowls. Bulger, 41, retired in 2011 after a 10-year career, making two Pro Bowls with the Rams.

Another Pro Bowler has a prominent curling connection. Tight end Vernon Davis attended the last three Winter Games as USA Curling’s honorary team captain.

Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker is the only athlete with NFL regular-season experience to compete in the Winter Olympics. He finished seventh in two-man bobsled at Albertville 1992.

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