The U.S. men’s curling team with their gold medals Saturday in South Korea, from left: alternate Joe Polo of Duluth, lead John Landsteiner of Duluth, second Matt Hamilton of McFarland, Wis., vice-skip Tyler George of Duluth, and skip John Shuster, a Chisholm native now living in Superior. REUTERS/John Sibley

By Lisa Kaczke, Duluth News Tribune

Duluth is planning to give its Olympians a warm welcome home from South Korea.

The Duluth Curling Club is planning to gather at 5 p.m. Monday at the Duluth International Airport to welcome home the U.S. men’s curling gold medalists John Shuster of Superior; John Landsteiner, Tyler George and Joe Polo of Duluth; and Matt Hamilton of McFarland, Wis., as well as U.S. women’s curling team members Cory Christensen and Aileen Geving of Duluth.

A public celebration of all of Duluth’s Olympians is scheduled for 4:30-6 p.m. Tuesday at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center. A program, beginning at 5 p.m., is expected to include a presentation of the Olympians who are able to attend, with time set aside for the public interaction. Parking at the DECC will be free during the event, which is hosted by the city of Duluth, the DECC and the University of Minnesota Duluth.

Members of the Duluth-based men’s curling team wore their gold medals during the Olympics closing ceremony on Sunday. They were the first American curling team to win the gold, defeating Sweden 10-7 on Saturday in South Korea.

Mayor Emily Larson said it has been exciting to watch Duluth be represented at the Winter Olympics this year.

“We take so much pride in watching somebody from our community be successful and to see this great story of Team Shuster, who really rose against so many challenges, and be this amazing underdog and come home with that victory, it just feels great. And to see Minnesota and Duluth so well represented in these sports, it has been phenomenal,” Larson said.

Noting that the men’s curling team members said in an NBC interview that they were excited to bring the win home to Duluth, Larson said, “It’s an amazing thing to witness and be a part of. I’m just really, really looking forward to welcoming them home.”

Duluth Curling Club President Linda Christensen was in the crowd to watch the men’s final curling match and the win was “unbelievable, so cool. I’m so excited for those guys,” she said from South Korea on Sunday. She was also at the Olympics to cheer on the U.S. women’s curling team, for which her daughter Cory Christensen was an alternate member.

About 80 of Team Shuster’s family members and friends were at the final match against Sweden, changing their tickets with other spectators until they were all sitting together in one cheering section, Linda Christensen said. Ivanka Trump, daughter of President Donald Trump, joined the group and held Shuster’s son as the young boy led a cheer.

Christensen said the best part of the game was when Shuster’s team got the final points and they knew the game was over. Then Swedish curler Niklas Edin spun in a circle on the ice to throw the final rock — that showed that curling is “a cool sport” because he knew he wasn’t going to win at that point.

“I knew Shuster was going to play really well to beat those guys because they dominated the field the whole week. Just unbelievable,” Christensen said. “Probably the best thing was seeing Shuster’s team all play their best.”

While she was at the Olympics, Christensen also saw Minnesota native Lindsey Vonn’s downhill race, a U.S. men’s hockey game and the closing ceremony.

“It’s not like at home where you get home from work and you’re just glued to the TV for four hours getting highlights of everything. Here it’s like, ‘Oh, the U.S. is in the quarterfinals of men’s hockey? Let’s see if we can get tickets,’ ” she said.

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