Ryan Bakken / Forum News Service, Published November 11 2013
Grand Forks product competes in U.S. Curling Trials
Yet, the skip of the Washington men’s team competing in the Olympic Trials, being held this week at Scheels Arena credits his roots in the sport for his recent successes.
“I grew up when Grand Forks had strong competitors in curling,” he said Monday. “I saw these people performing at a high level and I asked myself, ‘Why not me?’”
Now living in a Seattle suburb, the 36-year-old Clark has teamed with wife Cristin for nine traditional mixed national titles and three mixed doubles titles. And, in February, his men’s team won the U.S. national title for the first time.
This week’s third consecutive appearance in the Olympic Trials hasn’t gone nearly as well. His rink’s record is 0-3 in the double round-robin competition, meaning the best it can go is
5-3, which would be a long shot to qualify for the two-team championship round.
“We need to rattle off five in a row and get help,” Clark said. “We were 7-0 at nationals in February against the exact same teams.”
Although not sounding optimistic about winning the Trials after the 0-3 start, he said he’s still excited about the experience.
“It’s a lot of fun to think of yourself as a possible Olympian,” he said.
Claude “Spike” Spicer, his Viking Elementary fourth-grade teacher, introduced the sport to Clark and many other students. Clark said he was further influenced by Shirley and Don Barcome, other builders of the youth program then.
Another career boost from the family came when Don Barcome Jr. invited Clark to join him in the 1999 world competition in St. John, New Brunswick. Clark’s job was to escort Barcome’s parents.
“I was there, soaking it all in, seeing what the competition was like at the world level,” Clark said. “It was quite the experience for a 21-year-old.”
Wife Cristin, 2-year-old son Sean and his parents are in Fargo, soaking in the atmosphere to cap off a year when Clark was named USA Curling’s Male Athlete of the Year.
“Brady’s dedication to curling stands out,” said his father, Merlin Clark. “He does everything he needs to do and practices pretty much every day. Curling consumes a lot of their time.”
Cristin, who married Clark 14 years ago, has a similar passion for the sport. She also was attending UND when they met at the Grand Forks Curling Club.
It didn’t take them long to team up on two levels. They quickly became teammates that won a national collegiate title team and were engaged six weeks after meeting.
“We both like lifetime sports, where it’s about both fitness and strategy,” Cristin said. “Plus, we can do it together.”
Other UND ties
In addition to Clark, other Trials’ competitors with local ties are three former UND students. They are:
– Joe Polo, the second on the Pete Fenson team of Bemidji. By winning the 2006 bronze medal, the team became the first USA curling team to win an Olympic medal. Polo grew up in Bemidji, but now lives in Duluth.
– Steph Sambor, lead on the Cassie Potter rink of Bemidji. Sambor is from Minot, but now lives in St. Paul.
– Natalie Nicholson, second on the Allison Pottinger of Eden Prairie, Minn. Nicholson lives in Bemidji
Bakken writes for the Grand Forks Herald