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Eric Peterson, Published November 17 2013

Shuster wins men's final at U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Curling

FARGO – Team Shuster is headed to Germany and hopes that trip leads to Russia.

John Shuster’s team scored five points in the third end and added four more in the fourth. That big start led to a quick finish Sunday at Scheels Arena. Shuster needed just four ends to cruise to an 11-1 victory against Team Fenson to win the men’s final at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Curling.

“But that’s curling and it happens,” Shuster said of Pete Fenson’s team conceding after the fourth end. “When you get behind in curling, or start pressing a little bit, that’s absolutely something that can happen.”

Schuster’s team earned a 2-1 win in the best-of-3 series with Sunday’s victory.

“Losing is hard. Giving up there wasn’t all that tough of a decision,” said Pete Fenson, who lives in Bemidji, Minn. “At that point of the game it wasn’t all that difficult because we were so far behind that there was really no catching up anyway.”

Shuster still has work to do to qualify for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. His team is headed to an Olympic Qualifying Event, which is in December in Fussen, Germany. Eight teams are slated to compete in that qualifying event and the top two earn Olympic spots.

“We have to get right back at it and practice for sure,” said Jared Zezel, who plays second for Team Shuster. “If we go to Germany and don’t make it that is going to suck.”

Shuster, from Duluth, Minn., is optimistic his team (which also includes Jeff Isaacson and John Landsteiner) will qualify for the Winter Games. Shuster is a two-time Olympian and won a bronze medal in the 2006 Winter Games playing with Fenson.

“I like their chances,” Fenson said of Shuster’s team making it to Sochi. “They have a great team. They make a lot of shots.”

Fenson earned a 5-4 victory in an extra end on Saturday to force Sunday’s deciding game. Friday’s Game 1 was also close, with Shuster earning a 9-8 win in an extra end. In contrast, Sunday’s game came to an abrupt end after four ends.

“No one expected that to happen,” said Zezel, who is from Hibbing, Minn. “It was awkward for sure and different, but that’s how it happened.”

Shuster had a 2-1 lead through two ends before seizing control in the third end. Shuster scored five points in the third to take a 7-1 lead. Team Fenson wasn’t about to recover from that point.

“They got a couple of rocks in a good spot towards the end of the end and we really didn’t have anywhere to go,” Fenson said. “That’s pretty much the game.”

Team Shuster added four points in the fourth end to take an 11-1 lead. Fenson’s team decided to concede at that point.

Shuster said his team will take next weekend off before playing a bonspiel in Duluth, Minn., the following weekend. That is his team’s last scheduled competition before heading to Germany for the qualifier.

“I expect that we are going to be really ready and love playing there,” Shuster said.

Pete Fenson 010 0x-1

*John Shuster 205 4x-11

*had final stone in first end

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found

at peterson.areavoices.com