Bemidji honors Olympic curlers

The official welcome home for Bemidji's two Olympic curling teams took place Sunday afternoon, bringing out a crowd of around 700 fans to the high school gymnasium.

The official welcome home for Bemidji's two Olympic curling teams took place Sunday afternoon, bringing out a crowd of around 700 fans to the high school gymnasium.

The day started with a gathering at the waterfront, where the two teams autographed a Paul Bunyan sized curling broom and had their photos taken with Paul, who was decked out in a curling tam and bronze medal, a replica of thee Olympic medal, along with a broom and rock.

The two rinks were then transported to the high school in a wagon train.

Mayor Richard Lehmann welcomed the crowd and commended the curlers and Bemidji Curling Club for their efforts in promoting the city on a national and international scale.

He also cited men's alternate Scott Baird for being selected to the U.S. Curling Association's Hall of Fame.


Baird has skipped national championship rinks in 1979 and 1993-94, the first with this year's coach Bob Fenson as a teammate and the last two with Olympic skip Pete Fenson curling third.

He also was alternate on Fenson's 2003 national champs and again this year in addition to being the alternate on the Olympic team, the oldest curler to ever compete in the Winter Olympics.

Resolutions passed by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives commending Bemidji for its role in promoting the sport and the two rinks for representing the nation at the Olympic Games were read. They were promoted by Senator Norm Coleman and Representative Collin Peterson.

Lehmann then read a city proclamation proclaiming the city as the "Curling Capital USA."

Award certificates were presented to the nine curlers and one coach present, honoring them for their accomplishments.

Marian Christianson on behalf of the BSU Alumni Association presented a BSU Proclamation honoring the two rinks for their "ideals, achievements and high level of competition" at the Olympics. Six of the curlers are BSU graduates or students.

The curlers then extended their individual thanks to those gathered for their encouragement and support through the Games and during last week's U. S. World Team Trials at the Curling Club.

Baird pointed out that "it was a great honor to represent the city, state and nation at the Olympics."


Ruth Howe presented special gifts to the women curlers and Dan Johnson did likewise for the men.

Representative Frank Moe extended the thanks of the state Legislature to both rinks who have been invited to visit the Legislature during the present term when a mutual date can be arranged.

The BSU industrial technology department closed by presenting Pete Fenson with a giant bronze medal and ribbon like the one adorning Paul Bunyan, symbolic of the bronze medal earned at the Olympic Games.

Members of the men's rink were Pete Fenson, Shawn Rojeski, Joe Polo, John Shuster, Scott Baird and Coach Bob Fenson.

The girls unit was composed of sisters Cassie and Jamie Johnson, Jessica Schultz, Courtney George and Maureen Brunt with Coach Neil Doese.

Schultz and Doese were unable to attend the welcome.

Pete Fenson followed the Olympics this week by retaining his national title and will compete in the World Championships for the fifth time April 1-9 at Lowell, Mass.

Schultz skipped the Johnson rink which reached the final four before bowing out.

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