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The miracle on ice came in bronze

Norma O’Leary represented the United States in the World Senior Curling Championships last week in Scotland. Her team won bronze in the competition. Photo credit: World Curling Federation / Richard Gray.

Ken Vogel

Norma O’Leary isn’t lacking in competitive spirit.  That spirit was recently enhanced at the World Senior Curling Championship in Dumfries, Scotland.  Her visit became a miracle on the ice, on the grass and in the sand.

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The U.S. crew was one of 15 woman’s senior teams to earn a place at the world championship.   The road to the world competition had included Eau Claire, Wis., where seven women’s teams from around the country met to compete.  O’Leary’s team survived the competition undefeated earning the right to represent the U.S. in the world competition in Scotland.

 O’Leary and her teammates Margie Smith and Debbie Dexter from St. Paul, along with Shelly Kosel from Madison Wisconsin, stood proudly on the medal stage accepting the Bronze medal for the competition.   Team USA made it to the semi-final round losing to the Scottish home team on the final shot of the game.  Scotland went on to defeat Canada in the finals winning the world cup.  She recalled the feeling of honor she felt to represent the U.S. stating “I remember the first time I saw a jacket with USA and the name O’Leary on it; now that was special.”

O’Leary said even though her team lost to Scotland in the semi-final round, she felt the excitement of the crowd cheering on their home team.  “As bad as I hate losing, when their skipper made the final shot to win the game the crowd erupted.”  She said “I knew I just lost but I felt so good for them.  It made me kind of relive what I had just experienced in Two Harbors.” 

Prior to the World Senior competition O’Leary skippered another woman’s team that won first place at the 2014 USA Curling Club Championship which was held in Two Harbors.  She recalled the emotional intensity created by playing in front of a home crowd.  “It is unbelievable the feeling you get when everyone is excited to see you win.”  She said adding, “You feed off the excitement, I wanted to win, but I also wanted to win for the crowd.”

World championships are not new to the O’Leary family. Norma’s husband Mike participated in the world curling championship in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1966.

O’Leary said the people of Scotland were exceptionally polite and helpful.  “Even the crowds at the games were polite, they didn’t root against the other team, they just were excited for their team.”

The trip of a lifetime did come with some advice from O’Leary, “When at St. Andrews, stay out of the sand.”  With the birthplace of golf just 2 hours from the tournaments in Dumfries, the Superintendent of the Silver Bay Golf Course could not pass up the opportunity to play a couple of rounds at Scotland’s legendary St. Andrews Links.  “I have had dreams of playing at St. Andrews since I took a golf course architecture class in college.”  Having a detailed knowledge of the history of the course made playing there even more gratifying for her.  “If you don’t understand how the course developed it wouldn’t make sense to you; holes have been redesigned and added, it’s just incredible.” 

LaReesa Sandretsky
LaReesa Sandretsky is a Two Harbors High School graduate and Duluth native who began working at the News-Chronicle in 2012 as a reporter. She took over as editor in 2014. She covers County Board, including the Lake County broadband project.
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