America's curling skip was leveled by the sport he loved. Then he got back up, and won gold.

This wasn’t supposed to be the scene on the second Saturday of the Olympics, when as many people have gone home as remain behind. And just because the team of curlers for the United States blew up their sport’s orb over the previous 48 hours, we can’t pretend — most of us, at least — that we suddenly know the terminology and strategy of this mesmerizing sport: “end” and “stone” and “house” and the like.

But man, wasn’t that an absolute blast? Saturday evening, a team — sorry, a “rink” — led by a man who had essentially been fired by his sport’s national governing body, followed one of the PyeongChang Olympics’s greatest upsets with another of the PyeongChang Olympics’s greatest upsets, this time for gold. If there’s a cover-of-the-magazine image, it’s of John Shuster — formerly banished, now embraced — pumping his right fist as the eighth end concluded, because he blasted open the game by delivering the stone that provided a 10-7 victory over heavily favored Sweden.

“I can’t tell you how un-nervous I was,” Shuster said. It seems like an unremarkable utterance. But that feeling in that moment, it represents the complete transformation of a man and a team and, they hope, a sport in the U.S.

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