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Americans curl up to a new sport

The following editorial appeared in the Minneapolis (Minn.) Star Tribune:

Grenoble gave us Peggy Fleming; Innsbruck gave us Dorothy Hamill; Lake Placid gave us the Miracle on Ice; Calgary, Albertville and Lillehammer gave us Bonnie Blair.

Now the Turin games give us Pete Fenson, Joe Polo, Shawn Rojeski, John Shuster and Scott Baird.

They are the U.S. men's curling team, and, for the first time since curling became a medal sport in 1998, Americans are bringing home some hardware.

Minnesotans have known for years that curling is cool. So it is natural that the men's team is made of curlers from Bemidji, Cass Lake and Chisholm - and that the women's Olympic team, which did not contend for a medal, is entirely made up of Bemidji curlers.

The sport earned a following during the Salt Lake City Games in 2002, but the amazing run of the men's 2006 team is stirring conversations from sports bars to hair salons.

It's not a glamour sport like figure skating, hockey or downhill skiing. It doesn't boast a Bode Miller or a Shani Davis or a Sasha Cohen. And there likely will be no Wheaties box in Fenson's future, just a return to his two pizza places in Bemidji.

But that's what the Olympics ought be about: No endorsements, no TV gigs, just amateur athletes representing their country in sports they love.

Minneapolis Star Tribune