The U.S. men’s Olympic curling team is set to face-off against Sweden on Saturday in a battle for the gold, after a successful performance in the 2018 Winter Olympics so far.
The four-member team has continued to shock viewers everywhere during the Games, besting three-time defending Olympic champions Canada twice in less than a week to get to the final. Saturday will mark Team USA’s first curling gold-medal game in history, officials said in a statement.
“We’ve always felt like we were right in there,” said team lead John Shuster, “and if we play our best game that our game is good enough to go against the best in the world and to be one of the best in the world.”
Here’s everything you need to know about the rock-sweeping crew:
They Started a Mustache Movement — Seriously
It all started earlier this week when 2010 Olympic curler Chris Plys asked for bearded Twitter users to come together and shave their facial hair into a mustache — a clear nod to team member Matt Hamilton’s signature ‘stache. Hamilton promoted the movement ahead of the team’s match-up with Canada. With that, the “Hamilton Mustache Militia” was born.
Ok America! Absolutely massive game tonight for us here in #Pyeongchang2018. I’m gonna need everyone in #hamiltonmustachemilitia to sound off with another Stache pic and ranking (you make it up). Lets see the support!! @NBCOlympics @TeamUSA #curling #HamiltonMustacheMilitia pic.twitter.com/qXzqVFYeN9— Matt Hamilton (@MattJamilton) February 22, 2018
Fans everywhere have been sharing photos of their mustaches in the days since the call-to-action. On Thursday, Plys made it known that he was still the ‘stache-rocking leader of the movement.
“Ohhhhh yeah. I’m the founder. The CEO. The 5
General in the war against naked upper lips,” he tweeted. “I will however be resigning from this post after the Olympics are over. At that point @MattJamilton success will be at my own peril.”
They Got Into a Brief Twitter Spat with Kirstie Alley
In response, Shuster tweeted: “We’re not trying to be mean either but your movies weren’t exactly riveting theater Kirstie.”
The Underdog Curling Team Was Once Called ‘The Rejects’
A four-time Olympian, Shuster won bronze in 2006, but put on a disappointing performance in Sochi 2014. He was soon dropped from the national high-performance program, The New York Times reports.
So, he lost 35 pounds and formed his own team. They became known in curling circles as “The Rejects.”
The team, made up of Shuster, Hamilton, John Landsteiner and Tyler George (along with alternate Joe Polo), were underdogs going into the Games.
“Our team has had our backs against the wall plenty of times,” Shuster said. “But come on! It’s the Olympics! Who’s going to give up hope? This team is by far the most resilient group of guys.”
Shuster’s Sons Are the Team’s Unofficial Cheerleaders
As the four men battled their northern neighbors on Thursday, Shuster’s 4-year-old son, Luke, could be heard from the stands leading the cheers.
“Who are we?” he’d yell. And the crowd would respond: “U-S-A! U-S-A!”
“My kids and family and friends are absolutely the best cheerleaders,” Shuster said, noting that the family began sitting in a specific section during the Olympic trials.
Look who my kiddos found tonight! Thanks @lindseyvonn for taking this pic with them! Someday when they’re old enough to remember, I’ll pull this pic out and fill them in that they met the most legendary Alpine racer in history! #OlympicMemories2018 pic.twitter.com/LoOmwq9skW— John Shuster (@Shoostie2010) February 23, 2018
“When they took over that section of the stands and decided to be that team,” the father said, “it put us in a very familiar spot that we rallied around last time and it really energized us to come out here and enjoy the moment and to do what we did tonight.”
Shuster’s 2-year-old son, Logan, was also at the game. And although he didn’t put on a display with his big brother, Shuster said the toddler is just as passionate about the sport.
“My 2-year-old, his favorite thing to do is see Daddy curling and start going ‘U-S-A! U-S-A!’” Shuster said in a Team USA statement. “He doesn’t say hardly any words, but he knows how to cheer U-S-A.”
They Were Inspired by the U.S. Women’s Hockey Team
On Thursday, the headline-making hockey team defeated their biggest rival, Canada, to win long-sought-after gold. The game was a nail-biter, and went into overtime before the Americans won in a shootout.
The tournament marked the fifth time the teams have played each other for the gold since women’s hockey was introduced at the Olympics in 1998. Suffering back-to-back losses in 2010 and 2014, the U.S. had come up short for years — until Thursday. And the significance of the win wasn’t lost on the curlers.
“I think they just showed us that anything is possible,” Shuster told the Times, noting that the women’s display inspired the curling team.