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Bemidji hosts 2006 U.S. World Team Trials beginning today

When the eight women's teams and 10 men's teams assemble for the 2006 U.S. World Team Trials today, the welcome will be huge.

Members of the Bemidji Curling Club, just days after Olympic glory, have been hanging banners, arranging table decorations and stocking up on food and drinks.

"It's just part of the whole deal," said Marv Roxstrom as he unloaded groceries in the Curling Club kitchen. He said breakfast will be ready today to fuel spectators and athletes. He said lunch will feature soup and chili, as well as "easy stuff on the grill - hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled ham and cheese, maybe some Polish."

He added, "It won't be fast food and it won't be food fast. It's convenience."

He said he volunteers to work the concession as a service to guests from out of town and to make a little money for the Curling Club.

Mark Haloptzok said Bemidji hosted the U.S. World Team Trials about 10 years ago. Plans for this year included new carpet in Charlie's Bar upstairs and aluminum bleachers set up in the first-level viewing area.

Wayne Ward, manager of T-Juan's Restaurente & Cantina, worked behind the Curling Club bar on Friday afternoon. He said T. Juan's will cater the bar for four days during the trials, which continue until March 11.

"The Curling Club can only have a four-day (liquor) license," he said. "It's an eight-day event, so I'm doing the other four days."

On Friday, Clayton Braaten drew up for sale signs for the Hammer Hankies, souvenirs declaring "Bemidji Minnesota Curling Capital U.S.A."

"Every place in town's sold out," said Julie Bell, who made a special trip to the Curling Club to buy one of the 50 remaining Hammer Hankies.

Gayle Quistgard, executive director of VisitBemidji, said the 500 initial run of hankies sold out almost immediately all over town.

"We have more on order, but they won't be done until next week," Quistgard said. She said the next run will be 1,000 with the proceeds going to the Curling Club.

The technical preparation for the U.S. World Team Trials also kept Curling Club members scrambling through Friday afternoon. Specifically, preparing the ice was the highest priority. Bob Fenson, who coached the men's Olympic team, continues to coach Team Fenson, but also manages the club and tends the ice. He had help for the U.S. World Team Trials from Mark Shurek of Stonewall, Manitoba, Canada.

"Everybody works together," Shurek said. He said he prepared the ice for the last two national competitions in Madison, Wis., and Grand Forks, N.D.

"We flood the ice, make sure the surface is nice and flat, scrap the ice," he said. "We want to make sure the ice is the same from start to finish for all the curlers."