Curling athletes are introduced during the opening ceremony of the 2017 USA Curling Nationals on Feb. 11, 2017 at Xfinity Arena in Everet. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Curling athletes are introduced during the opening ceremony of the 2017 USA Curling Nationals on Feb. 11, 2017 at Xfinity Arena in Everet. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Local youth ushers in start of USA curling nationals in Everett

EVERETT — It began with the bagpipes, then concluded with one of Snohomish County’s sons helping sweep the ceremonial first stone to the button.

The opening ceremonies for the USA Curling national championships took place Saturday night at Xfinity Arena, with Lake Stevens’ Luc Violette helping open an event that brought the best curlers in the nation to Everett to compete over the next seven days.

The opening ceremonies included all the pomp and pageantry usually associated with major events. In addition to the bagpiper in full Scottish dress leading the procession of participants, there were speeches from dignitaries acknowledging everything from the local politicians who helped bring the curling nationals to Everett, all the way down to those who made the ice.

The surface at Xfinity Arena itself has a new look, having been transformed into five side-by-side curling ice sheets from its usual hockey configuration.

But the ceremonies weren’t complete until Violette, a 17-year-old Lake Stevens resident and a member of the current men’s junior national championship team, helped usher in the first major curling event ever to take place in his home county.

“It’s really cool to have nationals here,” Violette, a senior at Lake Stevens High School, said. “I was really happy and fortunate to be part of this event while it’s here at home.”

Violette was part of a four-person team of local curling luminaries put together to throw the ceremonial first stone. Concrete’s Nancy Richard, a four-time women’s national champion and member of the USA Curling hall of Fame, acted as skip. Ken Trask of Seattle, a member of the 2015 senior world championship team, threw the stone. Violette and Issaquah’s Ben Richardson, Violette’s junior national championship teammate, served as the sweepers. All four are members of the Seattle’s Granite Curling Club, which is hosting the event, and they combined for a perfect delivery to the button.

Under different circumstances Violette, rather than being part of the opening ceremonies, would instead have been one of the participants. Violette, who’s been a competitive curler since he was 11, participated in the 2015 men’s national championships, and there’s a good chance his team — which is part of USA Curling’s High Performance Program and includes Richardson, Chicago’s Andrew Stopera and Graem Fenson from Bemidji, Minn. — would have been a discretionary selection to compete this week.

But winning the junior national championships last month in Fargo, N.D., defeating fellow Granite Curling Club member and good friend Nick Connolly 5-4 in the championship match, scuttled those plans. Instead, Violette and his team are competing in next week’s world junior championships in PyeongChang, South Korea. Violette had just enough time to participate in the opening ceremonies before departing for South Korea on Sunday.

Not that Violette is complaining.

“It’s huge to play in the world championships,” Violette said. “It’s a tremendous opportunity.

“Every year there’s a lot of ebbs and flows in junior curling because kids age out when they’re 21, so you never know any given year exactly what the competition is like,” Violette added about his team’s chances at worlds. “I actually happen to know the Canadian team extremely well because they’re based out of Langley, B.C., and we used to go up there and play there. We measure up really well against them and usually Canada is one of the favorites to win it, so I like our chances. It’s all about how you play in the moment, right? But if we play well we can definitely medal and have a chance to win it.”

But while Violette will be fully present in his competition in Korea, a small piece of his heart will remain back home in Snohomish County and with the national championships taking place at Xfinity Arena.

“I’m excited for Snohomish County and Everett to have this event,” Violette said. “I’d like to be here, being a part of it. But it’s really cool and I’m happy to see curling here in the Everett area. Hopefully lots of people come out and watch.”

For more on the Seattle sports scene, check out Nick Patterson’s Seattle Sidelines blog at www.heraldnet.com/tag/seattle-sidelines, or follow him on Twitter at @NickHPatterson.

Talk to us

More in Sports

Seattle Storm fans cheer during the game against the Los Angeles Sparks at Angel of the Winds Arena on Friday, June 21, 2019 in Everett, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Storm to welcome limited number of fans for games in Everett

Seattle is allowed to host up to 2,000 fans per game this season at Angel of the Winds Arena.

White line on Green grass sport field for sport concept
Prep results for Wednesday, May 5

Prep results for Wednesday, May 5: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report results… Continue reading

AquaSox's manager, Louis Boyd, Funko Field at Everett Memorial Stadium in Everett on July 28, 2019. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
AquaSox top Hops in 11 innings for 1st win of season

Everett scores on a passed ball in extras and hangs on to beat Hillsboro 3-2.

FILE - Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf, right, runs to score a touchdown ahead of Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive back Jamel Dean during the second half of an NFL football game in Seattle, in this Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, file photo.  Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf is explosive off the line of scrimmage. But Sunday, May 9, 2021, he will venture into a new sort of lane to test his speed on a different sort of line, one that's filled with Olympic-caliber sprinters. (AP Photo/Scott Eklund, File)
Seahawks’ Metcalf to test speed against top sprinters

The wide receiver will run the 100-meter dash at the USA Track and Field Golden Games on Sunday.

Kevin Clark / The Herald

***Silvertips Special Sections*****
Yan Khomenko signals for substitution Sunday night at Xfinity Arena in Everett, Wa on September 6th, 2015

Sports:  Silvertips Special Section
Shot on: 09/06/15
Silvertips top rival Thunderbirds in shootout

Gage Goncalves scores the shootout winner as Everett beats Seattle 4-3.

The Herald’s Athlete of the Week poll.
Vote for The Herald’s Prep Athlete of the Week for April 26-May 2

The Athlete of the Week nominees for April 26-May 2. Voting closes… Continue reading

Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher John Means, right, hugs catcher Pedro Severino after Means threw a no-hitter in the team's baseball game against the Seattle Mariners, Wednesday, May 5, 2021, in Seattle. The Orioles won 6-0. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Mariner no-hit by Orioles’ Means

Seattle’s offensive woes catch up to it in a big way in a 6-0 loss to Baltimore to end its homestand.

Emerson Hancock warms up Saturday afternoon during practice at Funko Field in Everett on May 1, 2021. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
AquaSox preview: It’s prospects galore as Sox begin a new era

The AquaSox are loaded with talent as they enter their 1st season at the minor leagues’ High-A level.

AquaSox's manager, Louis Boyd, Funko Field at Everett Memorial Stadium in Everett on July 28, 2019. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
AquaSox drop season opener to Hops

Everett’s offense musters just four hits in a 4-2 loss to Hillsboro.

Most Read