Thursday, January 30, 2014

Fancy Pants

Photo: Scanpix Sweden/Reuters
Once or twice a week I drive past the St. Paul Curling Club near my home in St. Paul. It’s an unremarkable building and home to a sport most of us don’t know much about. But that’s changing, thanks to the unlikely—and highly visible—team uniform of Olympics-bound Team Ulsrud, Norway’s curling team.

Casting aside standard curling attire of team shirts and black pants, the four team members of Team Ulsrud added whimsy and a big a splash of color to the sport when they competed at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver. It started when the team was shipped the wrong uniforms with just weeks to go before opening ceremonies. Team member Christoffer Svae went online and found red, white and blue diamond patterned pants by golf wear designer Loudmouth. At the time, he wasn’t trying to prove a point, says Svae. “It was just feeling comfortable with what we were wearing to represent our country.” Though his team members hestitated at first, he ordered the pants and the rest is curling history.

Since then Team Ulsrud has added variations to the theme, sporting red, white and blue stripes, zigzags and a Norwegian flag pattern. That’s not all they’ve added: the uniform has its own Facebook page with over 540,000 likes. Last week the team unveiled one of Loudmouth’s designs for their 2014 Olympic bid, a departure from the geometric motifs but no less distinctly Norwegian: red, yellow and blue rosemaled flowers on a black background.

In just a few weeks the Norwegian team hopes to turn their 2010 silver medal into gold at Sochi. Read about Team Ulsrud and other Norwegian medal contenders in Viking’s 2014 Olympics Preview in the February issue.

Ann Pedersen is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in St. Paul, Minn.

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