The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

December 31, 2013

Landsteiner is sweeping his way TO SOCHI

Mapleton native to curl in Winter Olympics

John Landsteiner was just starting to consider scaling back the time he spent on the curling rink.

He had a successful junior career in the sport, playing in national and international events, traveling around the U.S. as well as to Canada and Scotland. As a student at the University of Minnesota Duluth, he was curling three nights a week in the winter months.

But it was time to get on with real life, he figured. He was wrapping up his studies at the UMD and looking to start a career in civil engineering.

“I was thinking about getting a job,” Landsteiner said.

But then he got a call. John Schuster, a veteran of two Olympic curling teams, asked Landsteiner to join his team to compete in money tournaments and take a run at national titles. If things went well, the World Championships, the Olympic Trials and maybe even the Olympics would be in the team’s sights.

Instead of backing off, Landsteiner ramped it up.

To paraphrase a common curling call, Landsteiner, 23, was hurrying hard – all the way to Russia.

In February, the Mapleton native and Heather Curling Club member will indeed compete in the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He’s the lead for the U.S. team, which includes three other Minnesotans: Schuster, of Duluth; Jeff Isaacson of Gilbert; and Jared Zezel of Hibbing.

Schuster, the team’s captain — known as the “skip” — will be playing in his third straight Olympics. Four years ago, he was the skip for the Americans, and eight years ago he was a member of the bronze medal-winning U.S. team.

“To represent 350 million people is pretty awesome,” Landsteiner said. “I’m trying not to let that get in my head. There are some nerves, but we’ll just take it one game at a time.”

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