GANGNEUNG – American skip John Shuster produced a masterstroke to earn a rare five-pointer as the United States beat Sweden 10-7 to win their first ever Olympic men's curling title on Saturday.
With US President Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka among the crowd, Shuster all but wrapped up a fine triumph with two ends to go with his hammer (last throw) blow that lifted the Americans five points clear.
Sweden, whose skip Niklas Edin made a couple of crucial errors to open the door for the USA, reduced the gap to three points going into the last end but the Swedes finally conceded with one stone left.
"It feels almost unbelievable, but we came out here with great intensity and just had to believe we could do it, and make our shots," said America's Matt 'Ham' Hamilton.
"It was a good game, I have no complaints about it. I'm just happy we were able to start strong and not allow them to get away from us early. We were able to find a rhythm and really start to put some pressure on them."
Shuster, at his fourth Olympics, was part of the USA team that took bronze in Turin in 2006.
USA could have been back home in Wisconsin by now after a disastrous start to the Pyeongchang Games, when they lost four of their first six matches.
But after an astonishing reversal of fortunes when they went on a four-game winning rampage, including defeat of curling masters Canada in the semi-finals, they finish Olympic champions – and surprise heroes for USA.
The US curlers were Shuster, vice-skip Tyler George, Hamilton, John Landsteiner and Joe Polo, who will now have get a 2018 Olympics tattoo to go with the logo from the Turin Games he has on his right shoulder.
The Americans may have had a high-profile fan amongst the 3,000 crowd, but the Swedes trumped Ivanka with a king, Carl XVI Gustaf, the Swedish monarch who was sitting a few seats away.
The teams were led out for the curling climax by a kilted Korean playing 'Scotland The Brave' on his bagpipes, in a nod to the sport's origins in medieval Scotland.
The Swedes were 2-0 up by the second end, but Team Shuster levelled immediately, and went 3-2 up in the fourth end with their yellow stone deemed an infinitesimal amount closer to the tee than Sweden's red.
Irked Swedes make for dangerous foes and they wasted no time bouncing back, skip Edin throwing a perfect hammer to put the Scandinavians back in front at 4-3.
But to enthusiastic support from supporters in stars and stripes, as opposed to Ivanka who was just in stripes – red and black – Shuster had his men back in front at 5-4 after a mistake by his opposite number.
A big throw from Hamilton, who always has a lime green cap hanging out of his back pocket for luck, for a double takeout triggered cries of 'U-S-A, U-S-A', but the Swedes nicked the seventh end to draw back level at 5-5.
Shuster then pulled off his master throw to secure the US a stunning five-pointer to go 10-5 up and earn the US a famous success.
"Can we all agree @TeamShuster never buys another drink in this state again. What a moment," tweeted one happy fan staying up late to watch the drama unfold from back in the States.