Mike Peplinski is a curler whose team took fourth place in the 1998 Olympics.
"Representing the United States was such an honor," he said.
Now he competes recreationally in bonspiels such as the Wausau Men's Invitational.
"It's just such a family, such a close knit group," said Peplinski. "The Wausau club is one of those where you come in and everyone seems to recognize you by face if not by name. It's a great environment to meet new people and to have a winter sport that's not out in the freezing cold, especially this year."
He said Wausau's Olympic-size facility is top of the line and it works in one aspect of the game that's difficult to incorporate at the Olympics.
"After you get done curling, social etiquette says you're supposed to sit down with the team you either beat or loss to and socialized with them over coffee, cocktails," said curler Doug "Stoney" Stone.
The Wausau Men's Invitational even serves cocktails and beer all day for its Friday and Saturday bonspiel.
Peplinski remembers how it felt to be in the '98 games and said the Olympians are too focused to be thinking of the social etiquette.
"Right now I think they're just anxious to compete," he said. "I remember that. The opening ceremonies were my favorite event over there, but it was like, this needs to be done, so we can do what we came here for."
"We aspire to be like the Olympians," said Wausau Curling Club Chair, Kelly Fraser, "but this is more in our club and other clubs that come into our club and have a friendly competition."
Peplinski said Canada often does well in the Olympic curling event. He thinks the U.S. is an underdog this year, but if the athletes peak at the right time, they could take home a medal.
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