Up North: Duluth Curling Club hosts nation’s top curlers for cash bonspiel
On a Sunday, when many Northland towns were below 0 degrees, the Duluth Curling Club was bringing the heat on the ice hosting with their cash bonspiel.
“I owe a lot of everything that my life has brought me to curling. It’s really a special game,” said Matt Hamilton, an Olympic gold medalist.
Curling is a serious sport, no matter how it’s portrayed.
“We treat it like your classic Olympic sport,” said Hamilton. “It doesn’t necessarily get the same vibe as it because it can also be treated as a bar game or something to do to just get through the winter.”
That seriousness was evident this past Sunday, when the Duluth Curling Club held their Duluth cash bonspiel, with some of the best curling teams in the United States and Canada coming to compete for points on the World Curling Tour, and of course, the $10,000 purse.
12 teams traveled to the Duluth Curling Club for the competition, but what is it about Duluth that attracts such high level athletes in this sport?
“There’s a lot of history here,” said Courtney Benson, the Bonspiel chair. “We have a great tradition of curling. We have a great membership. We have a really great junior program that’s going on right now. So a lot of the people that are out here all grew up curling together, a lot of families that know each other.”
However, the sports community as a whole transcends just the location.
“I mean, anybody that walks through the door, you’re immediately greeted by new friends. We just like to welcome everybody in and kind of keep that curling vibe going,” said Hamilton.
One of the best things at the Duluth Curling Club is the contrast of the $10,000 high stakes battle on one side, and a beginners class on the other. Both former olympians think the youth’s exposure to older players in the sport is great for the game.
“I went through the junior program here,” said Benson. “A lot of the players out here, the competitors went through that same junior program. So it’s like a way of life. It’s just something that we do. We play with our friends and this is a really a tight knit club, but yet really welcoming to the community. So I think it’s just something that you don’t even realize. It’s hard work sometimes. You just love it so much. So we have a lot of Olympians in this club that just kind of, you know, this was the place that we grew up. So it’s really neat that way.”
“When you’re a kid and seeing it, you’re like, ‘Hey, they curled here and they grew up curling here and they made it, why can’t I?'”, said Hamilton. “That was kind of my vibe when I was from Madison, because we had some great curlers down there. I was like, ‘I can do it. Why can’t I do it?’ It’s inspirational. It’s easy to just get hooked on it because you got so many people rooting for ya.”
The Duluth Curling Club has more bonspiels throughout the winter, and sign ups can be found here.