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Eric Peterson, Published November 10 2013

Former Olympian Don Barcome Jr. releases ceremonial first stone at US Olympic Curling Trials

FARGO – As the memories flowed through his mind, Don Barcome Jr. became emotional. The former Olympian started to tear up when asked to look back as his successful curling career.

“It has been an amazing part of my life,” said Barcome, who got his start in curling in Grand Forks in the late 1960s. “It’s just really a flashback for me.”

Barcome threw the ceremonial first stone Sunday night at Scheels Arena on the first day of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Curling. The 55-year-old Barcome stopped curling about five years ago, ending a decorated career that included a trip to the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

“I had a long career and it was a lot of fun,” said Barcome, who was a U.S. national champion in 1999. “There are just memories all over the place.”

With the competitors from all nine teams (both men’s and women’s) lining one side of the ice sheet, Barcome released the first stone. John Benton and Tracy Sachtjen (both decorated curlers) were the sweepers, while Bob Fenson held the broom from his wheelchair. Fenson, who was a top athlete and coach in the sport, is in the United States Curling Association Hall of Fame. Fenson was formally inducted into the Hall in 2011 when the USA Curling National Championships were held in Scheels Arena.

“All those players I have a connection with, everyone, and hundreds of people in the crowd, they’re good friends,” Barcome said.

Barcome got his start in curling soon after his family moved to Grand Forks in 1965. His mother, Shirley, took him to the curling club one Saturday and he was hooked.

“I never had a winter after that (one) that I didn’t curl until five years ago,” Barcome said.

Barcome comes from a curling family. His parents were both active in the curling community for decades and both served on a variety of local and national boards for the sport. Dr. Don Barcome Sr., his father, was president of the International Curling Federation from 1988-90.

“Curling was my life,” said Barcome, whose parents both died from cancer.

Barcome himself battled cancer. He was diagnosed with tongue cancer in 2004. He got radiation poisoning from the treatment and that caused his jaw to rot away. Doctors took bone from his leg to make a new jaw.

The cancer, the death of his father and his failing knees all led to him to quit playing the sport he loves five years ago.

“It was time to pull the pin,” Barcome said. “I don’t have an ACL in either knee from curling.”

Barcome said he was overwhelmed with emotion when he received a Facebook message a couple weeks ago, asking him the throw out the first stone for the Trials.

“It pretty much blew me away,” said Barcome, who now lives in Galesburg, N.D. “It’s nice to be honored. It’s nice that people remember you for some good things.”

Round-robin play for the Olympic Trials started Sunday with four men’s games at Scheels Arena. The first draw for today is scheduled for noon with a second draw at 7 p.m. An additional ceremonial first stone will be thrown at around 6:45 p.m. today in honor of Veterans Day.

Monday's schedule

Noon

Men’s: T. George vs. Clark

Men’s: Shuster vs. McCormick

7 p.m.

Men’s: Fenson vs. McCormick

Women’s: Potter vs. Pottinger

Women’s: Brown vs. C. George

Men’s: T. George vs. Shuster

Sunday’s results

Men

Clark 021 002 001 0-6

*Fenson 100 300 110 2-8

*had final stone in first end

*McCormick 020 110 202 x-8

T. George 002 001 020 x-5

*had final stone in first end

*Clark 100 010 20x-4

Schuster 021 101 05x-10

*had final stone in first end

Fenson 001 010 20x-4

*T. George 010 301 04x-9

*had final stone in first end


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Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found

at peterson.areavoices.com