SOCHI, Russia - Immediately following his team's exit from the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, US men's Olympic curler skip John Shuster began re-evaluating his entire career choice.
"I remember sitting in the village and kind of having to re-asses that part of my life," recalls Shuster. "I mean, was curling really worth it? Was it really worth what the whole family went though and sacrificed and be shelled in social media and media too and to have that devastation."
To recover he went back to his happy place, Pickwick — the restaurant in Duluth that he manages and where he's received plenty of support as he gets ready for the 2014 games.
"When you get home you get real hugs, like mom hugs, from people," says Shuster. "And they say we're so proud of you and happy."
But this happiness was hardly easy to attain. After winning the trials in Fargo in November, Shuster and teammates Jeff Isaacson, Jared Zezzel, John Landsteiner and Craig Brown had to qualify at an Olympic qualifying event in Germany last month — an ending that Shuster felt was destiny.
"This is really what we came together to do," says Shuster. "As soon as John and Jared joined the team I said, 'Hey guys, I know you're on board for project 2018 but how about 2014 because I think you guys are good enough.'"
Inspiration is a specialty of John's. Both in encouraging words and is his demeanor on the ice. Laser-focus and intensity is the name of his game. However with the birth of his son, he's learned there are bigger things than curling — a thought he says has helped.
"Now having a family and a home makes it where curling is part of my life. It's a major part of my life but it's just part," says Shuster.
But one that still has some living to do as Team Shuster tries once again to win the nation's first ever gold medal in curling.