Bismarck curling team off to compete in National Championship

Published: Mar. 31, 2023 at 5:31 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Basketball is a sport that usually gets a lot of attention during the month of March. But ever since North Dakota claimed curling as its state’s pastime, it’s been the coolest sport in town. One Bismarck curling team is familiar with performing on a big stage. In fact, they’re headed to a national competition in Boston.

Every curling match will start with opposing teams wishing each other “Good curling,” and that’s exactly how the under-16 boys curling club hope to end their season. They qualified for the under-21 National Curling Championship in Boston after knocking out the top-ranked team at a qualifying bonspiel, or tournament, in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

“It’s going to be a tough competition and kind of a mental game because it will be longer games than what we’re used to. So, whoever has the best mental game and strategy will show up and win the tournament,” said Zach Brenden who plays skip for Team Brenden.

While this team is young compared to other teams competing, they’re all 16 years old or younger and other teams could have players with two to three years more experience. But coach Roger Smith says they’re ready to sweep the competition.

“I’m telling them that if we beat the teams we’re supposed to beat and beat a couple teams that we maybe aren’t supposed to beat, then the goal is to get into the final four. There’ll be eight teams there and the top four advance to the playoffs and if you get into the playoffs then anything can happen,” said Smith, coach of Team Brenden.

The pressure of competing on a national stage can be hard to shake and Zach says being strong mentally will be key to performing at a high level. But in the end, it’s all about playing with integrity.

Team Brenden gets their name from the person who plays “skip” on the team, which is Zach Brenden. He says they’ll meet up with another North Dakota team in the national championships along with other teams they’ve already played across the country. The winner of the U-21 national championship will go on to represent the U.S. at the World Junior Championships.