The curling world was left almost speechless early Thursday morning when the U.S. men defeated Canada to not only advance to its first gold medal game in the sport, but also force Canada to settle for the bronze medal game for the first time since curling returned to the Olympics in 1998.
But, while fans and curling aficionados were surprised by the results, Team USA, comprised of John Shuster, John Landsteiner, Matt Hamilton and Tyler George, knew they were good enough to compete with the best in the world on the ice.
Here’s a bit of what team members had to say to reporters in PyeongChang after the historic victory:
"We've been in tough situations where our backs have been up against the wall. At two of the last three world championships we were in similar positions, where we had to run the table to advance.”
"We just told the skip (Shuster) that we had a lot of faith in him, and he knows that when we say that, we really believe it.
"(Shuster) did what he had to do to bounce back, and now we're rolling. Look out, Sweden."
"It's healthy to celebrate a little bit. I might go back to the Village and have a McFlurry."
"Believing in ourselves, playing the way we know how. One of our goals was to come out and be ourselves, and we did that.”
"We had a lot of fun. Obviously it gets more tense towards the end. You start to get a little quieter and more serious and just take care of business.”
"That's who we are. We are what you just saw and now the world knows it."
“I don’t remember us being in trouble at any point. We really stressed ‘let’s be really careful without the hammer – let’s not give these guys a big end and when we get the hammer we’re going after them tooth and nail. But, you saw how difficult it is to put points up on those guys. You’ve got to bleed points out of them. When you’re playing the best in the world, you’ve got to keep beating them down until someone flinches and this time it wasn’t us.”
“Every single day from the time the last Olympics ended and we decided we were going out for another cycle, everything single day, everything I’ve done has always had this day, this moment in the back of the my mind, the front of my mind.”
“Every single day when I wake up is trying to figure out what I can do to prepare for this moment and to have the pressure through this week and to come together now, this is a dream come true for sure.”
Canada’s Marc Kennedy
"I don't feel disappointed in our effort or the guys. I thought we played our (behinds) off all week to get in there. We ran into a hot skip, and it's just the way it goes.”
“You play a game that comes down to millimeters, and sometimes it's one draw here or there. A lot of the rocks we threw good and didn't get the results we wanted. It's a really… hard game at this level, and you're playing guys that are playing really well. We've had a great couple of months, and this year has been the best we've ever played as a team."
Canadian skip Kevin Koe
“He (Shuster) played good. He didn't have a lot of shots that were too hard, which is frustrating. He had pretty simple shots for the most part other than his run back in five that he made to score. He's obviously played well the past few games to get where he has, and I'm sure he'll play well in the final."
The U.S. will now move on to face Sweden in the gold medal game on Saturday morning at 1:35 a.m. EST.