What Does Winning an Olympic Gold Medal in Curling Do? Crazy Things

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DULUTH, Minn. — The evening he gained gold on the Winter Olympics in February, Tyler George slept with the medal subsequent to his pillow. He wished to ensure it might nonetheless be there within the morning.

Practically a yr later, he nonetheless has barely let the medal out of sight, largely as a result of he has not been allowed to let it out of sight.

“I do know that if I present up with out that factor, they’ll ship me dwelling,” George stated.

That is what occurs if you end up a part of the primary American males’s curling group to win an Olympic gold medal.

As invited company at hockey video games, golf tournaments and parades throughout the nation, the members of the group have discovered that almost everybody desires a have a look at these medals. George and his 4 teammates — John Shuster, John Landsteiner, Matt Hamilton and Joe Polo — have appeared at award reveals, state gala’s, numerous learn-to-curl occasions and at the least one Broadway manufacturing (“The Play That Goes Unsuitable”). They’ve given pep talks to marathoners and delivered graduation speeches to highschool college students. They’ve sung karaoke with Jimmy Fallon and blown the Gjallarhorn at a Minnesota Vikings sport.

Their medals have been kissed by dozens, caressed by a whole lot and worn by hundreds — actually hundreds, they are saying. And overlook about all of the selfies. Between stops, the members of the group have gone as far as to wash the pale ribbons from which the medal dangles.

“Nevertheless it doesn’t deliver that blue again,” Shuster, 36, stated with a hint of resignation.

They didn’t anticipate their victory tour to final fairly so lengthy, not that they’re complaining. However there was one thing charming and provoking about their Olympic expertise, which they capped with victories towards Canada and Sweden to clinch the USA’ first gold in curling, the ice sport performed with brooms and clean granite rocks.

And so the invites preserve coming — so long as they keep in mind to deliver their medals with them.

“I had a sense that it might be loopy,” George stated, “but it surely’s to this point past what any of us might have imagined.”

How loopy?

Hamilton’s distinctive bushy mustache was endorsed by Remington after the Olympics.

“I’m on a field, which is fairly neat,” he stated.

Hamilton, 26, stated he believed the group’s Everyman nature was a think about its enchantment. As he put it, “We’re not these chiseled gods.”

Landsteiner, 28, wonders if their medals have been the most widely traveled and heavily handled of any from the Pyeongchang Games. Among the luminaries who have tried them on: Aaron Rodgers, the quarterback of the Inexperienced Bay Packers; Nick Faldo, the three-time Masters winner; and Alfonso Ribeiro, the actor finest identified for his function as Carlton Banks on “The Contemporary Prince of Bel Air.”

The group grew to become a giant story on the Olympics after it bounced again from a gradual begin to defeat a sequence of curling behemoths within the medal spherical. By the point the group staged its upset for gold, it was the midnight again dwelling in Minnesota, the place George grew up studying the sport on the Duluth Curling Membership.

Sammy Perrella, a longtime buddy and the proprietor of Sammy’s Pizza, watched the ultimate on tv with buddies — “And I used to be driving that evening, so I used to be on my finest conduct,” he stated — earlier than he migrated to George’s dad and mom’ home, which grew to become social gathering central after somebody made a celebratory pit cease on the liquor retailer that Tyler runs along with his father, Tom.

“Impulsively about 30 folks present up with all this booze,” Perrella stated. “It went till like 10 within the morning. I used to be wrecked for 2 days!”

Again in South Korea, George and his teammates obtained a direct sense that their lives had modified ceaselessly when Rick Patzke, the chief government of U.S.A. Curling, handed them his cellphone as they had been leaving the venue: It was Dave Grohl, the lead singer of the Foo Fighters, who had reached out by a mutual connection to supply his congratulations.

“I keep in mind considering, ‘Actually? Is that this the way it’s going to be?’ ” Patzke stated.

In a phrase: Sure.

After the Olympics, the group made the troublesome resolution to move on a possibility to defend their nationwide championship at a event in North Dakota. They went to New York as an alternative, the place they appeared on “The Tonight Present” and rang the opening bell on the New York Inventory Alternate.

“We seemed round, like, ‘Nicely, we may very well be in Fargo proper now,’ ” George stated.

On the Minnesota Twins dwelling opener in April, every member of the group threw out a ceremonial first pitch. Hamilton rolled his towards dwelling plate, as if he had been curling. George, a former all-conference pitcher in highschool, determined to check out the previous wing and uncorked a wild throw that whizzed previous the catcher.

“Knew I used to be in hassle as quickly as I launched it,” George stated. “Rattling close to killed that man.”

He obtained a redo just a few weeks later when the Omaha Storm Chasers, the Triple-A affiliate of the Kansas Metropolis Royals, invited them to throw out one other batch of first pitches.

“I feel I bounced that one,” George stated, “however at the least I didn’t kill anyone.”

Whereas within the BMW Charity Professional-Am in Might, Hamilton and Shuster broke out their gold medals to make use of as ball markers earlier than putts, although Shuster was the one one who obtained heckled.

“Awfully humble, aren’t we?” a lady shouted from the gallery.

However that kind of response has been the exception. Via all their experiences — assembly Jack Nicklaus as particular company at a golf event in Ohio, dropping pucks at N.H.L. video games, driving on the curling float on the Nationwide Cherry Competition — the group members have discovered that their gold medals have a gravitational pull all their very own.

“Whenever you hand it to an grownup for a pair seconds, they’re like a toddler once more,” Hamilton stated. “They’re captivated by it.”

George stated he had loved with the ability to share it with so many individuals, and in so many unconventional methods.

“It’s the world’s best coaster,” he stated.

George and his teammates typically obtain look charges — they should make a dwelling, in any case — however Hamilton stated he thought their success on the Olympics would have generated extra income from mainstream sponsors. Curling, nevertheless, stays a fringe sport in a lot of the United States, regardless of their finest efforts. And the method of negotiating a film deal — one other huge aspiration — has been fraught with challenges, although they’re optimistic that their story may very well be coming (sometime) to a giant display close to you.

“It’s a studying course of,” Hamilton stated. “We’ve tried to encompass ourselves with individuals who know what they’re doing.”

George introduced that he was stepping away from competitors in Might, citing fatigue. He truly had felt burned out a few years in the past, he stated, however the Olympics had been an unfulfilled purpose. He now travels the globe as an envoy for U.S.A. Curling.

“We’ve by no means seen this kind of enthusiasm from individuals who wish to study extra concerning the sport,” he stated. “It’s been wonderful to see.”

Chris Plys changed George on the group, which has resumed its aggressive schedule in earnest. Plys, who didn’t compete on the Olympics, used to really feel responsible when followers would congratulate him for profitable gold, as a result of he didn’t truly win something. So he would appropriate them. Nevertheless it obtained to be an excessive amount of.

“I’ve stopped explaining to them that I wasn’t on the group,” Plys stated. “I’m like, ‘Thanks! The Olympic Village was nice! Can’t eat any extra bulgogi!’”

As for George, he doesn’t spend a lot time in his house in Duluth today. He thinks of it as extra of a storage facility the place he often sleeps when he isn’t on the street along with his medal. He nonetheless has a cat calendar from 2013 up on the wall close to his kitchen. A congratulatory letter from Vice President Mike Pence sits atop a pile of mail.

Once in a while, George thinks again to the evening that modified his life: the group’s 10-7 victory over Sweden at Gangneung Curling Centre. Throughout the match itself, George didn’t permit himself to entertain the dream of profitable gold till it was virtually assured.

“As a result of it might have been an excessive amount of stress if we’d thought of what was forward of us — the locations we’d go and the folks we’d meet,” he stated. “None of us had any concept.”

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