Roseville’s Skatetown prepares for a Bonspiel crush

Curling tournament to draw competitors from U.S. and Canada, including Olympians
By: Bill Poindexter/Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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As 36 teams and 144 curlers from the United States and Canada arrive in Roseville this week, the $64,000 question is this:

What exactly does Bonspiel mean?

That’s part of the name of the event, being held for the first time at Skatetown. The Crush Wine Country Bonspiel begins at 8 a.m. Friday and runs through Sunday.

“No one can figure it out,” said Alice Hartman, chairperson for this event and past Bonspiels in Vacaville. “‘Bon’ is French for good. I think ‘spiel’ is a word for sport. Nobody knows.”

The short, easy answer is this: Bonspiel is a simple term for a curling tournament. But Bob Kuhl, a Granite Bay resident and member of the Wine Country Curling Club, gave it a little more zest.

“Bonspiel is a curling term for tournaments, with wine,” Kuhl said last winter, when the Wine Country Curling Club moved its operation from Vacaville to Skatetown.

In this regard, Kuhl is on the money. The club will host a wine-tasting event for all the competitors tonight.

Four Olympic curlers are expected to compete, including Debbie McCormick, a three-time Olympian and skip — or captain — of the United States team in 2010 in Vancouver; 2007 U.S. champ and world bronze medalist Todd Birr; former Orangevale resident Patrick McDonald, a Paralympian wheelchair curler and Wine Country Curling Club member; and Great Britain’s Edith Loudon.

Skatetown marketing manager Susan Sweetser said the local rink held a “Funspiel” last year to get its feet wet for the Bonspiel. Sweetser recalls the event drawing eight to 10 teams. The Bonspiel is four times bigger and much more serious.

“This tournament is very different because of the ice prep,” Sweetser said. “They’ll be there Thursday night till 3 or 4 a.m. to make sure the ice is completely flat; no bumps or ridges or anything.”

Curling originated in Scotland in the 1500s. Curling in the 21st century includes broomstacking, social time between two teams following their draw.

“They have a table designated just for them. That’s a huge part of it,” Hartman said. “The thing about Bonspiels is an atmosphere of camaraderie that is absolutely amazing. It’s almost like a big family coming together. It’s like you’re meeting friends from all over the place that you haven’t seen in awhile.”


What: A Bonspiel is a curling tournament. This one involves 36 teams from throughout the United States and Canada with one competitor coming from Great Britain: 1988 Olympian Edith Loudon. Other competitors include Debbie McCormick, a three-time Olympian and skip for the United States at the 2010 Games in Vancouver; Todd Birr, a U.S. champ in 2007 and bronze medalist at the 2007 World Curling Championships; and Patrick McDonald, a 2010 Paralympian, Wine Country Curling Club member and former Orangevale resident now living in Wisconsin.

Where: Skatetown, 1009 Orlando Ave., in Roseville.

Times: Games — or draws — begin at 8 a.m. Friday and 7 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Admission: Free.

Information: Visit or call Skatetown at (916) 783-8550.