Just in case the sweeping and the shouting and the chess-like strategy is not enough to draw in the fans at the Olympics, the Norwegian curling team is again calling on its secret weapon: crazy pants.
For the third straight Games, the men’s team from Norway will be shaking up the staid, 600-year-old sport by wearing brightly colored trousers in competition.
Among the uniforms for Pyeongchang unveiled on Tuesday is one that makes them look like they were the losing team in a patriotic paintball outing.
“Curling is kind of similar to golf, very traditional,” Norwegian second Christoffer Svae said in a telephone interview from New York, where the team — well, mostly the pants — was doing a media blitz. “When we started playing in colored pants, it was breaking tradition. It was turning heads for sure.”
The pants first attracted attention at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, where they debuted as a red, white and blue argyle in a field filled with black or other dark trousers.
They — the pants, not the curlers — soon got a Facebook page that now has nearly 500,000 followers and its own e-mail address to field media inquiries.
Back then, the team ordered and paid for the pants off the rack, but it soon became a sponsorship opportunity. Loudmouth signed on for the Sochi Games and designed pants for the team.
The company has also backed a US beach volleyball team at the London Olympics, golfer John Daly and Peter “Snakebite” Wright, the No. 2 darts player in the world, but its biggest splash has come with the Norwegian curlers.
Svae said they will have 12 different outfits — enough to get them through the medal round — and some cash to pay for expenses.
In a niche, largely self-funded sport like curling, that comes in handy.
“It’s huge,” Svae said. “We get funding from Loudmouth to cover travel expenses, and also the fame we get from the Loudmouth clothes get us other sponsors in Norway, because they want to be associated with the brand we’ve made.”
The team are to be attending their third straight Olympics, having won a silver medal in Vancouver.
As the idea man behind the pants phenomenon, Svae said there is more to it than just free publicity. Curlers understand that the gimmicks might call attention to their sport, but they hope that people who tune in for the pants would take a liking to it.
“I think all curlers are eager to promote the sport,” he said.
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