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Curling: Bemidji's Fenson rink to begin play at World Championships

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Bemidji's Pete Fenson rink begins play today at the World Men's Curling Championships at Cortina, Italy.

It will be Fenson's sixth journey to the worlds, the fourth as skip in the past eight years.

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The Italy trip will be a homecoming, of sorts for the foursome which won the bronze medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics at Torino, Italy, the first medal earned by the USA since that event became an official Olympic sport in 1998.

Shawn Rojeski and Joe Polo will be on hand for the third straight time with Tyler George of Duluth, a nationally prominent Junior curler, supplanting John Shuster of Duluth, who held that role in the previous three trips.

Shuster is now skipping his own team which competed in this year's Winter Olympic Games at Vancouver.

Fenson is a third generation curlier in the family.

He follows his aunt, Norma Olson, one of the area's top women curlers for many years for whom, the Norma Olson women's bonspiel at Bemidji was named, and father, Bob, who was the lead on Bemidji's first world entrant in 1979, a rink skipped by Scott Baird with brothers Dan and Mark Haluptzok as third and second.

Baird also skipped the 1993 rink at the world meet with Fenson curling third along with Mark Haluptzok and Tim Johnson, tying for third place.

That foursome returned the following season

Rojeski curled third on the Eric Fenson national Junior championship teams in 1991-92. Eric was third on his brother's 2003 team at the world meet before leaving to form his own rink, one that competed in this year's U.S. national qualifying rounds but failed to gain the big event.

Fenson's fourth trip to the worlds as skip moves him into then upper echelons of national champs, tying the legendary Bud Somerville of Superior, Wis., who won the nationals in 1974, '69, '68 and '65 and took the world title in 1974.

Bruce Roberts of Hibbing also went four times in 1977-76-67-66, claiming the world title in 1976,

Baird skipped three world teams as did Paul Pustovar of Hibbing and Somerville's son Tim.

The U.S. has won only the two world championships. It finished second four times and tied for second in a fifth.

It took third six times and tied for third on six other occasions.

But it has been 34 years since the last American crown, something Fenson would like to end this week. He is also seeking his first medal at the meet as a skip.

The first five days of play will be a round-robin pool with the top four teams advancing to the Page playoffs next weekend.

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