Amazing Moments in Olympic History: 2006 Men's Curling Team
At the Torino 2006 Olympic Winter Games, the men's curling team, better known as Team Fenson, defeated Great Britain 8-6 to earn a bronze medal. The bronze was the first Olympic curling medal won by Americans.
Team Fenson was comprised of skip Pete Fenson, vice skip Shawn Rojeski, second Joe Polo, lead John Shuster and alternate Scott Baird. Every member of the team hailed from Minnesota, and most of the team had been competing together for years.
Curling, which typically is dominated by the Canadians, was introduced to the Olympic Winter Games in 1998. Before the 2006 Games, the Americans hadn't medaled at a curling event since the 1993 world championships. Fenson and Baird were both a part of that bronze-medal team, but Baird was the skip, and Fenson was the vice skip.
Pete's father, Bob, has been coaching his son in the sport since his son was 13. He and his wife were curlers, and they made it a family affair when they got their son to play as well. Bob was Pete's coach at the 1993 world championships and at the 2006 Games, in addition to many other events. USA Curling named him the Coach of the Year in 1997 and 2006.
USA Curling named Fenson the Athlete of the Year in 2003 and 2005. USA Curling named Rojeski the Athlete of the Year in 2006. USA Curling and the U.S. Olympic Committee both named Team Fenson the Team of the Year in 2006.
The most important thing that Team Fenson did was make curling look cool. The members got people to watch and inspired others to take up the little-known sport in the United States. People started asking themselves: If those guys could win an Olympic bronze, who's to say I can't win gold?
Vancouver could bring an interesting turn of events to the sport in the men's category. Shuster, who now skips his own team, will be representing the United States up in the home country of the sport's toughest competitors.
And Baird, who was the oldest winter Olympian in history at 54, is now a part of the American curling high-performance staff, which assists the men's and women's teams in their preparation for Vancouver.
Regardless of the outcome in February, Team Fenson always will be remembered as the first to medal in the Winter Games.