The Curse of Labonte

Graeme
By
Posted: November 8, 2015


The Curse of Labonte was a purported curse which kept the Canadian curling team from winning the World Curling Championships from 1972 to 1980. The curse was allegedly placed on the Canadians by US Captain Robert Labonte during the 1972 Air Canada Silver Broom after a contested call which handed the Canadians that year’s title.

Background to the Curse of LaBonte

The men’s World Curling Championships have been held every single year since 1959 with Canada being the dominant force. The Canadians have won 34 of the 56 championships that have been contested over the years. The nearest challengers are Sweden with just 7 championships. Curling is also one of the games played at the Olympics but like the annual championship, this has a very lean following.

How did the Curse of Labonte Begin?

The Curse of LaBonte is attributed to an incident that happened during the finals of 1972 world men’s curling championship held in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. The Canadian team, playing under Captain Orest Meleschuk was facing the United States captained by Robert LaBonte. Canada found themselves two points down in the final end. Meleschuk had the final shot of the game, hoping to tie the game and keep up Canada’s unbeaten run in that year’s tournament. When he stepped up to shoot, the US had shot rock on the button and Canada had a second shot right next to it. The Americans were sitting third rock with a rock at the 8-foot. In order to earn the score-tying points, Meleschuk needed to hit the American rock without rolling further than his third rock. Meleschuk made the hit and his rock went on to roll and stop in the 8-foot. The rock stopped very close to second which meant that it needed close examination to determine which rock was closer and thus if Canada had scored two points for the tie or just one.

Curling is played as a ‘gentleman’s game’ which means that there are no match officials players call fouls on themselves and judge scores for themselves. Canada’s third Dave Romano was to make this call. The Americans meanwhile started celebrating in the notion that they had won the tournament even before Romano had finished investigating. In the chaos, LaBonte jumped to celebrate but he slipped and inadvertently hit the Canadian stone. In so doing, he pushed the Canadian rock closer than the American Rock awarding Canada two points to tie the score and force and extra end. The Canadians would then score an extra point which handed them the championship after LaBonte was unable to hit the Canadian rock with the final stroke of the game.

After the contested game, many believed that the incensed LaBonte put a curse on Canada, with the Canadians having to wait until 1980 to win their next World Championship. Since then Canada have recovered gone back to their dominant selves, winning a further 21 championships, the latest of which came in 2012. Larry Tucker, a Canadian journalist is credited with inventing the curse following Canada’s 1980 win. Meanwhile the United States seems to be on affected by a hex themselves, having failed to win a single championship since 1984.

Curling is played as a ‘gentleman’s game’ which means that there are no match officials players call fouls on themselves and judge scores for themselves. Canada’s third Dave Romano was to make this call. The Americans meanwhile started celebrating in the notion that they had won the tournament even before Romano had finished investigating. In the chaos, LaBonte jumped to celebrate but he slipped and inadvertently hit the Canadian stone. In so doing, he pushed the Canadian rock closer than the American Rock awarding Canada two points to tie the score and force and extra end. The Canadians would then score an extra point which handed them the championship after LaBonte was unable to hit the Canadian rock with the final stroke of the game.

After the contested game, many believed that the incensed LaBonte put a curse on Canada, with the Canadians having to wait until 1980 to win their next World Championship. Since then Canada have recovered gone back to their dominant selves, winning a further 21 championships, the latest of which came in 2012. Larry Tucker, a Canadian journalist is credited with inventing the curse following Canada’s 1980 win. Meanwhile the United States seems to be on affected by a hex themselves, having failed to win a single championship since 1984.

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