Craft beer, peanut brittle and homemade fondue prepared a curling club for a party that started on Friday night and didn't end until Saturday morning.
Members of the Frogtown Curling Club cozied into their St. Paul facility for the "Gold Medal Lock In," an event centered around the U.S. men's Olympic curling team going for gold against Sweden.
Start time? Saturday at 12:35 a.m. A few hours later, the lack of sleep was worth it: Fans near and far rejoiced when the U.S. team shocked the curling world with a 10-7 victory.
"This is the place to be," Kat Beaulieu said. "This is a family affair here. The sporting community of curling is the most welcoming, warmest community I've ever been a part of."
Chuck McCann, a longtime curler who helped found the Frogtown Club, said the sport has grown a lot in the United States and in his club recently.
"Even if it's 30 degrees out there and no heat, they just love being here," McCann said. "It's a curling club. You can sit at the table and talk about the game."
McCann predicted before the match that Sweden would win. He thought it would be close, though.
"I didn't watch a ton of the Olympics this year, but they have a tendency to play at the top of their game every game," McCann said of the Swedes. "The U.S. has some variables, but you can only hope."
People at the party drew cards from a deck to guess what the score would be for each end. Several fans wore fake mustaches to pay homage to U.S. curler Matt Hamilton. "U-S-A!" chants broke out when the U.S. had a 5-4 lead after six ends. Those chants got louder when John Shuster scored five in the eighth to give the U.S. a 10-5 lead.
Watch party attendee Sean Whatley is on a Frogtown curling team with his law school friends from William Mitchell. Whatley was confident heading into the game that the U.S. would win, and said he was especially confident after eight ends.
"It's fun to watch in an environment like this," Whatley said.
The U.S. curling team came off a victory Thursday vs. Canada, the gold medalist in three consecutive Winter Olympics. Barb Gutzmer said it was great that the Americans had even gotten this far.
"It's an awesome avenue for curling," Gutzmer said.
Jack White is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.