The sport of curling—including the Grand Forks' unique club—is becoming the region’s other ice staple
At only two years old, the Grand Forks Curling Center has the feel of a long-time community staple. The walls are draped with banners paid for by local businesses. Donor names can be found embedded into bricks or displayed on plaques throughout the halls. Photos showing proud curling teams of the past year—or past decade—are everywhere. Built through funding and volunteer hours from outside groups and several of the members, the facility has a quality that any activity center from the region hopes for. When you walk in and see the main playing area or the viewing and lounge zones, you get the urge to participate—in all of it.
“We built this like people built things in small towns. Everyone provided their skills and volunteered their time,” says Dan Lindgren, secretary for the GFCC. “People wanted to be a part of something that they could be proud of.”
As the state’s largest curling facility, the center has a refrigerated ice sheet big enough to host four games at once. A player and viewing lounge was built on the second floor of the building, along with an open-air balcony that allows a unique look at the action from above the ice. The club hosts several leagues for players of all skill sets and also opens its doors for non-curling related functions. At times, Olympic-level curlers use the ice for practice sessions. But throughout most of the year, regulars or beginners are on the ice at the same time for a competitive game or just a chance to spend time with friends and family. Lindgren and his team oversee leagues Monday through Thursday along with tournaments on the weekends. The University of North Dakota is setting up an intramural league and companies can rent out the facility. “My favorite part of volunteering here is to watch the facility and interest in curling grow,” Lindgren says.
Since the completion of the new facility, Lindgren has witnessed steady growth. The U.S. is one of the only countries in the world where curling is growing. On the Sunday after the last winter Olympics finished, the ice was full of participants there for an introduction-to-curling session. If Lindgren had his way, the club would host leagues all day, every day, much like they did in his home country of Canada. Because of its professional level playing conditions in combination with its welcoming and relaxing lounge atmosphere, Lindgren believes the two-year-old facility should be considered a mainstay of the city. Curling, he says, is about the competition and the sport, but it’s also about the people and the community on the ice, both of which he adds, are helping the participation levels and membership numbers grow every year. G
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PHOTOS BY: RUSS HONS PHOTOGRAPHY
From Issue 4, 2018