Dakota Datebook

The LaBonte Curse
By Merry Helm
Have you heard of North Dakota’s LaBonte curse?
Back in 1972, four men from Grafton were the world champions in the sport of curling for a little less than five seconds. They were Bob LaBonte Jr., Ray Morgan and “the Aasand brothers,” Frank and John. It was the third year in a row that a North Dakota team advanced to the world championships. In 1970, a different Grafton team won fourth in the world, and in 1971, a team from Edmore won the bronze. The gold eluded Grafton’s ‘72 team only because of an accident.
The world championships were in Germany that year, and the Grafton boys were playing Canada in the finals. When Canada’s last stone failed them, they took off their gloves to congratulate the Grafton team, and LaBonte leaped into the air to celebrate their 9 to 8 victory. Unfortunately, when he came back down, his legs slipped out from under him, he slid on the ice, and he brushed against Canada’s stone just enough to give the opponents another point. An extra end (or inning) was required to break the tie, and Canada ended up with the gold. North Dakota’s winning streak was over – hence, the LaBonte Curse.