We had another stirring and enthusiastic welcome by US curlers at Fargo with a big honour guard, all wearing black and red curling jackets.
John Mielke, one of the calm, collected, key figures in curling in this area welcomed us. John is a past Director of the USCA and is recorded in US curling’s Hall of Fame.
In the foyer we were entertained by two indigenous Americans, descendants of the Sioux tribe: one a storyteller who spoke and sang in the Lakota language, and and elaborately costumed colleague who danced. The theme centred on the relationship between man and the buffalo. The buffalo was “Walmart to us”, providing food, clothing and shelter said the storyteller.
Each North Dakota rink was made up of curlers from around the State who had often played against each other but not together – something they much appreciated when playing against us. Some US players ha travelled over 400 miles by road from as far away as Crosby on the border with Canada to play one game for the Herries Maxwell Trophy.
We went into dinner in our blazers to applause from our hosts, among them Kevin Kakela, and Dave Jensen who coaches the US junior girls for USCA events.
Chris Sjue who chaired the dinner vividly remembers playing in Scotland in 2012. Bison steak was the big item on the menu, a new experience for us Scots and much enjoyed. The North Dakota players and their ladies were delightful company at table, and many cards and compliments were exchanged.
The mascot saga continues. Sandy, our original mascot, and recent companion Flopsy, were joined by The Dakota Kid who, our hosts thought would give Sandy a rest and bring some sparkle back onto Flopsy’s life! Bill Arnot was allowed one call back to UK to book quarantine and, later, a float for our livestock.
Many-talented Bob Labonte, who played in the 1972 Silver Broom entertained us all after dinner with curling stories, anecdotes, throw-away lines – and sang to his own accompaniment.
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Readers of this blog from Aberdeen Scotland and from Aberdeen South Dakota will be glad to know that curlers from both locales met on the ice earlier in the week and enjoyed each other’s company – of course.