Team Shuster Withdraws

Citing “emotional and physical fatigue,” the men’s Olympic curling team has withdrawn from the US Curling National Championships. It is believed that Team Shuster will be replaced by Wes Johnson’s rink out of Seattle. The most recent draw has been posted to the USA Curling web site.

[UPDATE] – From the AP:

The U.S. Olympic men’s curlers have withdrawn from next week’s nationals because of emotional and physical exhaustion.
Lead John Benton said he brought up the idea after the team’s disappointing performance in Vancouver but insists it had nothing to do with the Americans’ last-place finish at 2-7.

The lineup already was to be without vice skip Jason Smith, with Olympic alternate Chris Plys set to replace him.

“We all underestimated the drain that this would be,” Benton said. “It’s kind of convenient to say based on our results that we might have pulled out. I can’t say that even if we had done well we wouldn’t have made the same decision. It’s just so physically and emotionally taxing. I think it’s just a relief to everybody to be done and put it to bed.”

Benton said he will enjoy playing a no-pressure league game Tuesday back home in Minnesota.

The eight-day national tournament starts next weekend in Kalamazoo. By skipping nationals, this team can’t qualify for the 2010 world championship in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, held from April 3-11.

The men’s team accepted the invitation to nationals before the mid-December deadline, but Benton said if the players had known how tired they would be now they probably wouldn’t have done so.

Skip John Shuster’s team will be replaced at nationals by the next squad in line from this season’s national playoffs, Wes Johnson’s team from Seattle.”