John Shuster

NFL star Jared Allen’s team beats Olympic champions at curling nationals

Jared Allen

Retired NFL star Jared Allen was part of a curling team that beat 2018 Olympic champion John Shuster to open the U.S. Championships in Denver on Sunday night.

Allen, who retired from the NFL in 2016 and picked up curling in 2018, is on 2010 Olympian Jason Smith‘s team, which beat Shuster’s team 10-6 in the first game of round-robin play.

After all eight teams play each other, the top four advance to Friday’s playoffs. The winner of Saturday’s final is national champion and is expected to be the U.S. team for the world championship in Ottawa in April.

Allen, 40, said before nationals that he is eyeing the 2026 Milano-Cortina Winter Olympics, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

“I thought curling was going to be a lot easier than it was,” Allen, who was on a different team at the last nationals in 2021 that went 0-9, told the newspaper. “But I’m one of those guys who, once I start something, I’m going to see it through. Our goal at nationals is to beat as many teams as we possibly can and see where we land.”

How big of an upset was Sunday’s result? Ken Pomeroy rated Smith’s team fifth in the eight-team field before the tournament, while he had Shuster’s team second behind Korey Dropkin.

Shuster’s team won the last three nationals that they entered, plus the last two Olympic Trials since the bulk of the team formed for the 2015 season. Shuster went 11-0 at his last nationals in 2020, then 11-2 at the 2022 Olympic Trials, where the younger Dropkin beat him twice but ultimately lost in the finals series.

Allen was first linked to serious curling in February 2018 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, along with retired quarterback Marc Bulger, first played on a team with 2010 Olympian John Benton and fellow veteran curler Hunter Clawson.

Allen’s new team includes Smith, who played on the 2010 Olympic team skipped by Shuster, Clawson and Dominik Maerki.

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Peacock announces Winter Olympics documentary slate


Peacock will premiere documentaries on the 2002 Olympic figure skating judging scandal, Alpine skier Picabo Street and the U.S. Olympic men’s curling team in January in the lead up to the 2022 Winter Olympics.

It starts Thursday with the premiere of the first two episodes of “Meddling,” a four-part docuseries on the scandal that rocked the 2002 Salt Lake City Games and caused figure skating’s scoring and judging system to be overhauled. The series includes an interview with the infamous French judge, Marie-Reine Le Gougne.

On Jan. 21, “Picabo,” on the life of Street, co-directed and executive produced by Frank Marshall and Lindsey Vonn, premieres. Vonn, whose childhood idol was Street, interviews the 1998 Olympic Alpine skiing champion as part of the film.

Then on Jan. 26, the four-episode “American Rock Stars” premieres, looking at the U.S. men’s curling team going for repeat gold. Nick Offerman, the “Parks and Recreation” star actor, narrates.


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


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

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

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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