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Eric Peterson, Published February 11 2011

Area officials hope tournament gives curling a boost

While it may not be the Winter Olympics, local curlers are hoping the USA Curling National Championships helps grow the sport in the area.

The nationals – which feature 10 men’s and 10 women’s teams – are set to start Saturday at Scheels Arena and run through the following Saturday.

“We have a very good base, we have a lot of good curlers in this town, but you are always looking to get new people in your sport,” said Steve Hatlevoll, a former Fargo-Moorhead Curling Club president. “Any time you can do anything that is going to raise your visibility in the community, that’s going to help the sport.”

A number of Olympians that played in either the 2006 or 2010 Winter Games – or both – are set to compete in these nationals.

Pete Fenson of Bemidji, Minn., was the skip for the U.S. men’s team that won a bronze medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics.

“We see our biggest spike in curling when it’s on during the Olympics when it’s on television,” said Chris Sjue, from Fargo and the president of the United States Curling Association. “Events like this keep people wanting to try it.”

Sjue has been involved in curling for nearly 50 years. He said North Dakota has hosted numerous world, national and junior national curling events over the last 10 years.

“It’s kind of a prestige thing,” Sjue said.

The F-M Curling Club has around 250 members, said club president Amelia Young. She hopes hosting this national event leads to Fargo getting a world event in the future.

“That’s kind of one thought process,” Young said. “It’s something that I think this area could really support.”

The F-M Curling Club is located next to the John E. Carlson Coliseum in north Fargo. The facility was built in 1967 and has four sheets. The club is in the process of raising funds in hopes of building a new facility. One of the sites the club is looking at is near the Southwest Arena in south Fargo.

The new facility would house five or six sheets, Young said. The estimated cost is $3 million.

“That is kind of more the golden standard,” Young said.

The F-M Curling Club will have a “Learn to Curl” session on Feb. 25 from 5-8 p.m. to capitalize on the buzz from the nationals. In addition, the club will run a mini-league in March (that lasts four weeks) to give beginning curlers a chance to try out the sport.

Young said there will be a “Rock the Lot” outdoor ice sheet outside Scheels Arena so people can try throwing a rock.

“It will just increase that awareness and people will want to come out and just try it out,” Young said of hosting the nationals. “That’s all we want.”

Terry Dimmer, who is on the F-M Curling Club board, thinks the word “club” sometimes makes people think it’s not open to the public.

“It’s not just a sport of a unique group of people,” Dimmer said. “This is open to everybody.”


USA Curling National Championships

E What’s at stake: The top men’s team and top women’s team advances to the World Curling Championships. The men’s world is set for April 2-10 in Regina, Saskatchewan. The women’s world is set for March 18-27 in Esbjerg, Denmark.

Schedule

The tournament starts Saturday with opening ceremonies at 2:30 p.m. The first women’s draw is set for 4:30 p.m. The first men’s draw is scheduled for 8:30 p.m.

Sunday and Monday draws are scheduled for 8 a.m., noon, 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.

The women’s gold-medal draw is set for 10 a.m. Feb. 19; the men’s gold-medal draw is set for 3 p.m. Feb. 19.

Tickets

Single-session tickets

Day pass: $15 general admission, $20 reserved, $25 club

Morning session: $6 general admission, $9 reserved, $12 club

Evening session: $12 general admission, $15 reserved, $18 club

Gold-medal session: $15 general admission, $20 reserved, $25 club

Full tournament

Club seat: $179 E Reserved seat: $139 General admission: $99

Ticket phone: (800) 745-3000 Note: Suite rentals also available

For more information

Phone: (701) 364-3672 Website: 2011usacurlingnationals.com


Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com