'Rest easy, Hans': Condolences pour in after Sask. curling superfan's death

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Curling fan Hans Madsen is pictured on eight different days at the 2015 Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Moose Jaw, Sask. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Curling fan Hans Madsen is pictured on eight different days at the 2015 Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Moose Jaw, Sask. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press - image credit)

"Curling's bearded fan" has died, according to Saskatchewan's curling organization, CurlSask.

Hans Madsen was from Yorkton, Sask., but was recognizable across the country thanks to his colourful wigs and dyed beard. The curling fan and his wife would travel to almost every major curling event possible to cheer on teams. Madsen showed up at Grand Slam events, Briers, Scotties and world championships.

On Thursday, CurlSask confirmed to CBC News that Madsen had died after a long battle with cancer. He was diagnosed with Stage 4 melanoma, an aggressive form of cancer, in December 2017.

After having 26 lymph nodes removed, an experimental treatment helped extend his life. For a brief time he was without his signature beard, and used a homemade, false beard, fashioned out of socks with help from his wife and daughter.

Madsen was back for the Olympic curling trials in Ottawa about a year later.

"The curling community is hurting with the loss of Hans. Everyone has a story. Everyone has run into him at an event and he's left an incredible legacy moving forward," said Ashley Howard, executive director of CurlSask, at a Thursday news conference about the provincial tournament.

"He brought that happiness to our entire sport. And we were so lucky to have him and be a fantastic fan and ambassador for our game. And he will be truly missed."

Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press
Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

Kirk Muyres, one of the athletes with Saskatchewan's Team Dunstone, said the curlers are also mourning his death.

"He was basically on tour with us. He was at every event we played and he certainly is going to be missed next year," Muyres said. "He was a mainstay here."

Devin Heroux/CBC Sports
Devin Heroux/CBC Sports

Condolences have been flooding in on social media from teams and organizations across the country. In Saskatchewan, Team Barker wrote that "he truly was curling's biggest fan. His presence at literally every event will be missed."

Newfoundland's Team Dunne wrote that Madsen's enthusiasm, joy and energy were limitless.

"I truly cannot imagine him not being in the stands. I hope he knows how much his presence was loved and what his enthusiasm and joy brought to those around him," the post said.

The Grand Slam of Curling page also shared condolences.

"We always looked forward to seeing super fan Hans Madsen at our events … rest easy, Hans."

Heidi Atter/CBC
Heidi Atter/CBC
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