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From backyard rink to big stage, Bismarck’s Britta Curl ‘excited’ to represent U.S. at World Championship

Former Bismarck Blizzard standout Britta Curl was selected to represent the U.S. at the IIHF Women's World Championship in May

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Former Bismarck Blizzard standout Britta Curl finished her junior season at Wisconsin with 17 points and a plus-15 rating. She wore the 'A' on her jerseys all year. Photo by Tom Lynn / Wisconsin Athletics

MADISON, Wis. — Britta Curl has never been far from a sheet of ice. At 3 years old, she was learning how to skate on a homemade rink in her backyard.

It didn’t matter if it was dark or well into the night. Whenever her older brother would grab his skates and head for the backyard, Curl was right behind him.

Curl and her three siblings grew up skating around and playing pick-up games on the ice rink at their Bismarck home, which her dad builds every winter. They were out there whenever they could.

“I’ve had a passion for hockey for as long as I can remember,” said Curl, a Wisconsin Badgers forward. “When I was a kid and saw the Lamoureuxs playing in the Olympics, that’s what I wanted to do.”

Curl, a 2018 graduate of Bismarck St. Mary’s, played on boys teams until she was in eighth grade. She switched to the girls side and played five seasons for the Bismarck Blizzard.

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Bismarck St. Mary's graduate and University of Wisconsin forward Britta Curl tallied seven goals and 17 points this season to help the Badgers repeat as NCAA women's hockey national champions. Photo by Tom Lynn / Wisconsin Athletics
Photo by Tom Lynn / Wisconsin Athletics

She watched Monique and Jocelyne Lamoureux win a silver medal for Team USA in the 2010 Olympics in awe. The twin sisters from Grand Forks were part of two more U.S. Olympic teams (2014, 2018). They also won seven International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Women’s World Championships — the same stage Curl will be on next month.

Curl was recently named to the U.S. National Team that will compete in the IIHF Women’s World Championship in Nova Scotia on May 6-16.

Her performance at a week-long tryout in Blaine last month earned her a spot on the 25-player roster for the second year in a row. Curl made the team more than a year ago in December 2019, but was never able to compete in the 2020 Worlds because of the pandemic.

“I'm just really looking forward to playing in my first Worlds,” said Curl, who won the NCAA women’s hockey title with Wisconsin last month. “Obviously, it's something that not a lot of people get to do. I hope I can make a big enough impact to be considered for the Olympic team; that’s kind of the end goal. I’m excited and hopefully can bring the gold back.”

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Wisconsin forward Britta Curl (17) leaps to her teammates after the Badgers lit the lamp against Ohio State in January. Photo by Tom Lynn / Wisconsin Athletics

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The U.S. has won the last five World Championships, and will open the tournament against Switzerland on Thursday, May 6.

After being selected last year, Curl was confident in her chances to make the team a second time, but the nerves set in once the tryout camp concluded. The roster was announced March 30.

“Every year is different, and I’m definitely not at a spot where I can take my position for granted,” Curl said. “Seeing my name up there was a huge sigh of relief. It’s another chance for me to show them who I am as a player.”

As a senior in high school, Curl won a gold medal with Team USA at the IIHF World Under-18 tournament in Russia.

Bismarck players celebrate their state championship Saturday at the Ralph Engelstad Arena. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
Bismarck Blizzard's Britta Curl celebrates her short-handed goal in the first period against Fargo North-South in the 2018 girls hockey state championship game at the Ralph Engelstad Arena. Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald

In Curl’s five prep seasons, all of which were played with Bismarck, she tallied 189 goals and 116 assists. She led Bismarck to four consecutive state titles from 2015-2018, captaining three of those championship teams.

Curl hasn’t ended a season without a championship since she was in eighth grade.

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She won a national title with the Badgers last month and was still smiling three weeks later. Wisconsin (17-3-1) won its second consecutive NCAA championship on March 20 with a 2-1 overtime win over Northeastern (22-2-1).

Curl served as an alternate captain this season, and finished her junior campaign with 17 points and a plus-15 rating in 20 games. Her mom, dad and younger sister were in Erie, Pa., to watch her win her second national title, while the program got its sixth NCAA championship banner.

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Wisconsin forward Britta Curl holds up a hand sign as she skates by Minnesota's bench during a two-game series with the Gophers. Curl got the game-tying goal in the first game of the early February series that sent the contest into overtime. University of Wisconsin-Madison Athletics photo

Curl helped lift Wisconsin to a national title as a freshman in 2019. She tallied 33 points during her debut season and tied for the fifth-most goals in school history by a freshman with 22. Curl’s younger sister, Brenna, tallied 11 goals and 18 points this year as a freshman for Bismarck.

Curl won this year's national title alongside her former Blizzard teammate Kennedy Blair, who was in net for the Badgers. Blair, a redshirt senior, made 24 saves to help lift the program to back-to-back titles.

Blair, a 2016 Bismarck High graduate, transferred to Wisconsin this year for her last season of eligibility. She finished the year with a 16-3-1 record and .934 save percentage for the the WCHA regular-season and conference tournament champion Badgers.

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Former Bismarck Blizzard standout Kennedy Blair finished with a 16-3-1 record and a .934 save percentage this season for Wisconsin. She was a finalist for the Women’s Hockey Commissioners Association goaltender of the year award. Photo by Mel Giammarco / Wisconsin Athletics

“This one meant a lot to me, personally, and the other upperclassmen, because we realize how hard it is to be in that leadership role and win one,” said Curl, who saw a lot of growth as a leader this year. “My freshman year, I contributed, but it’s almost kind of like the upperclassmen do the hard work and you just get to enjoy it at the end. This year was definitely more difficult.”

The Badgers won the WCHA regular-season title last year, but their season was cut short by the pandemic before Wisconsin’s NCAA quarterfinal game against Clarkson.

“You look forward to something and you think you have a really good chance, and then don’t get to finish what you started,” Curl said on last season’s ending. “We were really hungry and we really wanted to get back there again. After we won this one, to look back and see all the things that we went through as a team to get there definitely added some meaning to it.”

Curl had 16 goals and 25 points as a sophomore.

Curl has been back in Madison training and skating since the U.S. National Team tryout camp concluded. She’ll get to spend a couple weeks back home in Bismarck after the World Championship.

“I think it's really special to be able to have the support I do from North Dakota,” Curl said on her home-state fanbase. “I definitely feel it, and I love to see the growth that the game is having in girls high school in North Dakota. It’s pretty cool to see players like me reach the next level.”

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Wisconsin forward Britta Curl (17) pats goalie Kennedy Blair on the helmet in an early-season game against Ohio State. Curl and Blair were teammates in Bismarck, where they won two state championships together. University of Wisconsin-Madison Athletics photo

Carissa Wigginton is a high school sports reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. A Fargo native, she graduated from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Wigginton joined The Forum’s sports department in August 2019.
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