By Evan Midford, Website & Social Media Coordinator
Hurry Hard! This is a familiar phrase that has rang through the Ursel household for decades. First, by Jim Ursel, then passed down to his two sons, Bob and Mike.
You see, curling is not just a game to them – it is a part of who they are, and what they did best growing up.
Jim grew up in a small town in Glenella, Manitoba with a population of less than 1,000 people. Nonetheless, In 1955, the town went ahead and built a two-sheet curling rink when Jim was only 11 years old.
This is where he really got the opportunity to first learn the game. He was there for a short time before his family moved to Winnipeg four years later, where he became a junior at the Strathcona Curling Club.
This is where Jim honed his craft, learning the skills necessary to be great, mentioning that it was almost like “attending a curling college”.
So many great players were already established there, like Manitoba Sports Hall of Famer, Ken Watson. It was the perfect environment, developing the nuances of becoming a pro, and learning to win and lose with class and treating your opponents with respect.
The Journey Continues
In 1954, Jim had his first major success story in curling. He played lead for the Gene Walker team that captured the Schoolboy Championships (Junior Provincials).
By 1962, he was on the men’s circuit playing third on Norm Houck’s team that captured the provincial title and made it to the Brier. They did not win the tournament, but it was an opportunity for Jim to grow his game, before becoming a skip for his own team.
Jim moved away to Quebec in 1974 and did not return to Manitoba until 1980. During this time, he was the skip for Team Quebec six times, winning the Brier in 1977.
Upon his return to Winnipeg, Jim continued to curl, capturing two senior men’s provincial championships and winning the National Senior Championships in those same years in 1990 and 1991.
The Ursel Legend Grows
Going back in time to 1983, Jim had two sons named Bob and Mike, who also curled quite extensively.
They were making a name for themselves on the junior curling circuit, winning the junior provincial championships, and getting their first taste of the junior nationals.
Although they did not win it, it was a good stepping stone for what was to come.
In 1984/1985, Bob Ursel skipped his Granite Curling Club team to a junior provincial and national championship, giving them the right to go to the world championships.
Once they arrived in Perth, Scotland and were coached by their father Jim, the two brothers and their teammates Gerald Chick and Brent Mendella went on to dominate the field.
They went 8-1 in the round-robin, with their only loss coming against a Norwegian team that had a familiar face playing lead, a young Thomas Ulsrud, 2014 World Champion skip.
They managed to get revenge on the Norwegians in the semi-finals, crushing them 11-2. In the finals, they played a gritty team from Switzer
land, beating them 6-5 in an extra end, winning Manitoba’s first ever World Junior Championship.