Alaska curler Colin Hufman hits the ice for US men at Beijing Olympics

The wait is over for Fairbanks-born curler Colin Hufman: He can now say he’s curled at the Olympics.

Hufman was selected as an alternate for the U.S. men’s curling team, a position that guaranteed him a trip to Beijing — but whether he would get a chance to actually compete for Team USA was an open question. For the team’s first four games of the round robin, Hufman sat at the end of the ice with the team’s coaching staff, watching his teammates John Landsteiner, Matt Hamilton, Chris Plys and John Shuster compete.

The team split its first four games, winning against Russia and Great Britain, but chalking up losses to Sweden and Norway.

Its fifth game was against medal favorite Team Canada, and the game got off to an inauspicious start. Missed shots led to a 7-1 deficit after the fifth end, the game’s halfway point. That’s when Team USA decided it was time to shake things up, and Hufman got to take off his warm-up jacket for the first time.

Hufman started the sixth end in the lead position, and fans immediately greeted his arrival with a mixture of glee at his presence and concern for Landsteiner, the team’s usual lead. On social media, the team quickly reassured fans that Landsteiner was just taking a break so Hufman could get some experience on the Beijing ice.

Hufman’s arrival to the game coincided with a turnaround in the U.S. team’s fortunes; Shuster made a masterful shot in the sixth end to score three and narrow the scoreline to 7-4. The team held Canada to a single point in the seventh and regained the last-rock “hammer” advantage, then dug themselves out of trouble in the eighth end when Hufman and Plys swept Shuster’s last draw in to score after Canada threatened to steal multiple points.

Unfortunately, the U.S. team’s luck wouldn’t hold, as the team ran into trouble trying to steal and gave up two points in the ninth end, leaving them down 10-5 with just one end to play. Shuster opted to concede rather than play the match out to its near-certain conclusion, and Team U.S. fell to 2-3 in round-robin play.


There is no guarantee that Hufman, who now lives in Minneapolis, will get more playing time at these Olympics, but the game against Canada made him the latest addition to a tiny group of Alaskans — along with Anchorage’s Jessica Schultz and Fairbanks’ Vicky Persinger — who have curled on Olympic ice.

[Alaska’s Rosie Brennan skis to 4th place in Olympic sprint — and comes close to history]

[Alaska curler Vicky Persinger exits Winter Olympics with only memories to bring home: ‘It’s a tough pill to swallow’]