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Curling Hall of Fame welcomes Bob Fenson

When it comes to curling, Bemidji's Bob Fenson has done nearly everything.

He's been a top athlete, a top coach and an ambassador for the sport. You can add Hall of Famer to that list.

Fenson was formally inducted into the United States Curling Association Hall of Fame on Saturday night at Scheels Arena in Fargo. The ceremony was held prior to the first men's draw on the opening day of the USA Curling National Championships.

"It means a lot to me," said Fenson. "It's something I really can't explain."

Pete Fenson, Bob's oldest son, presented his father with the Hall of Fame plaque after a brief ceremony.

"It's a great thing," said Pete, the skip on the No. 1-seeded men's team. "He is very deserving. He has spent the majority of his life involved in the game and doing what he can to give back and help grow the sport and help teach some of us how to play."

Bob Fenson, 64, curled for nearly 50 years prior to having a stroke 2½ years ago. He was a coach for more than 20 years. Fenson also served on the USCA Board or Directors for nearly 20 years, including two years as president.

"What's he's done for the sport has been invaluable for us and truly worthy of Hall of Fame induction," said USCA board member Richard Maskel, who also competed against Bob Fenson. "There isn't an aspect of the game where Bob Fenson hasn't contributed to the sport."

Fenson won national championships as an athlete. He coached 12 teams that advanced to world championships at various levels. His sons, Pete and Eric, were on a number of those world qualifiers.

Bob Fenson also coached the 2006 United States men's team that won a bronze medal at the Winter Olympics in Italy, the first and only medal the U.S. has won in the sport. Pete Fenson was the skip of that team.

"I really can't say that one is bigger than the other," Bob Fenson said. "I'm just proud of the fact that I was able to do it and I was able to coach all those teams because everyone means a lot to me."

Earlier in the day, the event held its opening ceremonies that included an introduction of all players on the 10 women's and 10 men's teams along with the traditional playing of bagpipes.

Stan Baer, an 82-year-old Fargo curler, threw out the ceremonial first stone that nearly settled on the button. Keith Gilleshammer and Bruce Bernstein swept for Baer, while Carolyn Nelson held the broom. All three of them are local curlers who have competed at nationals.

This is the third time the USA Nationals are being held in an arena setting instead of curling clubs.

"The arena is good," said Nicole Reiser, a women's competitor from Mandan, N.D. "The ice is really good. It's fast. So it's nice ice to play on."

Zach Jacobson, 26, a men's competitor from Langdon, N.D., also liked the setup.

"The ice out here is just phenomenal," Jacobson said. "I had never been here before. This is a great arena, a beautiful arena."

Pete Fenson, who has won six national titles, is pleased the USA Nationals are now played in arenas.

"It's always good because the ice is a little different in an arena," Pete said. "The rocks act a little differently in an arena so this is good we are playing in arena settings now."