OMAHA, Nebraska -- Those aching to see USA and Sweden battle under the spotlight once again will get just that on Sunday afternoon as John Shuster and Niklas Edin are set to battle in the Curling World Cup final.
Shuster and his team of Chris Plys (Duluth, Minn.), Matt Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.), and John Landsteiner (Duluth, Minn.) made quick work of Canada's Jason Gunnlaugson tonight in a 7-3 victory as they finished out the double robin on a five-game win streak at Ralston Arena.
"We're playing great. It's very evident that we've done a lot of work this year together to get to this particular spot," Shuster said. "I'm just really proud of all the guys on the team."
Edin's Swedish team clinched their spot in the final earlier today - and it took the U.S. men six ends to slide into the second spot to set up the 2018 Olympic curling men's final rematch.
"That sounds like a lot of fun," Shuster said about the USA-Sweden final. "It's something that we've had a lot of chances to talk about throughout the last year - about that game - and I'm sure they're going to really be grinding tomorrow to see if they can't get one on us."
A well-played opening end by the U.S. forced Canada into drawing into the full four-foot to score a single point. Canada would steal a point in the second end when Shuster's takeout attempt would jam and leave a Canadian stone closest to the button. The U.S. would shrug that off and capitalize on an unsuccessful tap attempt from Canada to draw into the eight-foot for four points. The U.S. would continue to control the match and stole a point in the fourth end when Canada's final draw was light. Canada would miss big in the fifth end after a beautiful draw from Shuster really put the pressure on Gunnlaugson's crew. A missed runback gave the U.S. two more points to extend the lead to 7-2. After taking a single in the sixth end, Canada conceded the loss.
USA's mixed doubles team of Tabitha Peterson (Eagan, Minn.) and Joe Polo (Duluth, Minn.) rallied from a big deficit to defeat Russia's Anastasia Moskaleva and Aleksandr Eremin but came up one point short of winning Group B to advance to tomorrow's final. The U.S. needed a win by China over Norway to knock the Norwegians from the top spot. The 2018 Olympic bronze medalists, however, drew the button perfectly to defeat China and move into the final where they'll face a familiar foe in Switzerland.
The U.S. duo fell into an 0-5 hole against Russia but patiently got back into the game and set up the winning points with great draws in the final end.
"It was just execution on our part. They were making everything, and we were getting half shots here and there in the first half," Peterson said. "But, in mixed doubles anything can happen, so we just stuck with it and thought we'd get some chances. We did and capitalized when they started missing so it worked out in our favor this time."
Russia started out strong with a big steal of three points over Peterson and Polo. The U.S. team got into trouble in the following end and were in danger of giving up a big steal until Polo made a double takeout to limit the damage to just one point in Russia's favor. Back-to-back misses from the U.S. squad in the third end led to another single steal for Russia as they boasted a 5-0 lead.
The Americans took advantage of a rare miss by the Russians late in the fourth end as Polo followed up with a double takeout to score two to get the U.S. on the scoreboard. A solid fifth end resulted in the U.S. stealing a point when Russia's final draw attempt was heavy. Not backing down, USA thwarted Russia's scoring attempt in the sixth end and walked away with a steal of two more points. In the seventh, the Americans forced Russia into a draw for a single point to take the hammer into the final end. The Americans started the end well with two good draws to position stones on the top and bottom of the button. Another solid draw from Peterson set up an eventual score of three for the win.
Women, Group A:
Korea 4-1 (12 points) - Qualified to final
Canada 3-2 (9 points)
USA 2-3 (6 points)
Russia 1-4 (3 points)
Women, Group B:
Japan 5-0 (15 points) - Qualified to final
Scotland 3-2 (9 points)
Sweden 2-3 (6 points)
China 0-5 (0 points)
Mixed doubles, Group A:
Switzerland 6-0 (17 points) - Qualified to final
Korea 3-3 (9 points)
Canada 2-4 (7 points)
Sweden 1-5 (3 points)
Mixed doubles, Group B:
Norway 4-2 (12 points) - Qualified to final
USA 4-2 (11 points)
China 2-4 (7 points)
Russia 2-4 (6 points)
Men Group A:
USA 5-1 (15 points) - Qualified to final
China 3-3 (9 points)
Scotland 3-3 (9 points)
Canada 1-5 (3 points)
Men Group B:
Sweden 4-1 (12 points) - Qualified to final
Norway 3-3 (9 points)
Switzerland 2-3 (6 points)
Japan 2-4 (6 points)