Some of the athleticism Bismarck Blizzard forward Britta Curl displays on the ice makes it seem like she's a wizard from another world.
Now it becomes apparent why that seems so. She's on her way to join a collection of similar wizards. Curl will represent the U.S. in the Under-18 World Championships next month.
The tournament Begins Jan. 6 and concludes with the championship round on Jan. 13 in Dimitrov, Russia.
Playing on a national team is a long-held dream for Curl, a senior at St. Mary's.
"When the Lamoureux twins (Jocelyne and Monique) were in high school they made this team, and I remember I looked up to them like crazy. I was like 8 or 9 and I thought 'that's what I want to do,'" Curl recalled.
The Lamoureux twins, originally from Grand Forks, are currently members of the U.S. Olympic Team.
"I don't know if it was really realistic until two or three years ago. ... I knew I could do it, so it became more like a reality," Curl continued.
All the more so last year when the 2017 National team was being formed. Curl made it to the final camp of 30.
"I got cut for the final roster for the World Team, so that was rough," she recalled.
Early this month Curl was notified, much to her relief, that she'd made the roster for the Under-18 World Tournament.
"It's been a long and challenging process. ... First of all, I'm honored. This has been one of my goals for a long time," she said. "Honestly, I look at it as a chance to get better. It's not often you get to play with the best players in the country."
For anyone with even a passing interest in hockey, Curl is no secret. She's been among the state's top five points leaders ever since she joined the Blizzard as an eighth-grader in 2013. She's led the state in scoring the last two seasons and was second the year before.
She's accomplished all this while playing for the most high-profile girls hockey program in the state. The Blizzard have won the last three state championships and placed second the year before. In fact, the Blizzard have finished first in four of the last five and six of the last 12 state tournaments.
Curl didn't take a traditional path to the Blizzard. She hadn't played girls hockey before she joined the high school team in 2013. She came up through the ranks of the Bismarck boys youth program -- Mites to Squirts to Pee Wees.
"I give credit to playing with boys when I was growing up," she noted. "I played with boys teams until the eighth grade. That's when I switched over to the girls high school team."
"My dad (Bill Curl) put me in boys hockey and it was more challenging for me, I guess. ... A lot of girls played Mites with the boys and switched over (to girls teams). I liked playing with the boys teams."
Curl followed her older brother, Bryne, a 2015 St. Mary's graduate, up through the Bismarck hockey system. Bryne, who runs track at North Dakota State, competed in hockey, football and track in high school.
Looking back, Curl said she comes by her competitiveness naturally.
"It's something I was born with," she observed. "My family has always been competitive. My parents (Bill and Gretchen) were really good athletes, and still are. I grew up around competitiveness. It's alway been part of our household."
Naturally, Britta's two younger siblings, Cullen and Brenna, are involved in athletics.
Hockey is by no means Curl's only athletic pursuit. In the spring she competes in both soccer and track for St. Mary's. She's a three-time all-state soccer player and has placed in the last three state track meets as a hurdler and javelin thrower. As a sophomore, she kicked for the St. Mary's football team.
Hockey has always had the edge over Curl's other sports, though.
"I always loved soccer and hockey growing up. I don't know why, but hockey has always been my favorite," Curl said.
When she got to high school is when she really began to major in hockey.
"I put a lot more time into working on hockey than the other sports," she said.
Lest anyone get the idea she lives in an athletic pod, Curl said her life isn't just a one-track obsession.
"I love being active, but I make sure I have a balance. I have days off and in the summer I'm still being a kid," she said. "I try to make sure it's not all about sports."
Her St. Mary's activities include the student council and participation in Catholic Athletes for Christ.
For the next three weeks or so, however, Curl will be totally invested in hockey. She reports to the Under-18 National Team for a pre-tournament camp in Tampa, Fla., on Dec. 28. The team departs for Russia on Jan. 3 and plays its first tournament game against Sweden on Jan. 6.
The U.S. team returns home on Jan. 14.
Curl said she's looking forward to the experience, even though it means diving into some deep, deep water.
"I enjoy challenges. I always have. ... I definitely don't like to lose. When I put my mind to something I definitely want to put forth my best effort," she said.
While she's representing the U.S., Curl will miss seven Blizzard games -- next week's annual Border Battle tournament at Blaine, Minn., and statewide games with Dickinson, Devils Lake, Mandan and Grand Forks.
When she graduates next spring, her focus must shift quickly to Division I hockey at the University of Wisconsin. She announced her intention to attend Wisconsin more than a year ago.
"The process was not that easy," she noted. "There were a handful of great programs I was looking at, and I guess it all just came down to where I felt like I would be at home."
Curl said the Badger women's hockey tradition -- 10 final four appearances and four national championships over the last 13 seasons -- was a factor in her decision to commit to the Madison campus.
"That definitely came into play. I want to be somewhere where we can win a national championship. And then you look at the type of players that come out of there," she said.
Wisconsin is currently ranked No. 1 in Division I with a 21-1 record. Five Badger players or alumni will skate on the Canadian Olympic team. Four Wisconsin players or alumni were on the U.S. Olympic team, pending the final cut.
Curl will join Kennedy Blair, a former Blizzard goaltender, in the Division I ranks. Blair plays for Mercyhurst. Mercyhurst, located in Erie, Pa., competes in the College Hockey America Women's League.