06 February 2011

2011 BDO Canadian Open! Part IV! Or, when Team Ulsrud Meets The Pants

So.... an Olympic Silver Medalist bought me a beer.

It is important to note that I was very very nervous to meet and spend time with Team Ulsrud.  I didn't know what to expect of them.  I didn't know what their mood would be.  I didn't figure it would last all that long, and I frankly had a few things I wanted to tell them.

So it should surprise no one that I had to go to the bathroom.  

Having taken care of my business, I was informed by Lisa that George (Karrys) had walked by and informed her that it would just a few more minutes.  And indeed, at 6:50 or so, we went up to the main concourse - George, his video guy, Lisa and I.  And there was a huge crowd.

The crowd didn't stop Thomas Ulsrud from seeing me anyway.  He waved warmly, and the other three followed suit.  But, for the time being, they were a little busy - signing photos (Oh, Thomas put two aside for me. Don't worry about that).  I was ushered to an out-of-the-way place behind the table, where the guys could all see me (and several times mentioned that these crowds were my fault doing).  

The team was absolutely fantastic with their fans, signing anything people wanted, shaking hands, taking pictures.  Truly wonderful with their fans.  And while all this is going on, George and I are taping a segment, and he's taping the crowd.  I've got several pairs of pants with me, including one that I want the team to sign (more on that in a minute).  

The crowds finally die down, and the team is standing up and getting ready to move on.  The whole group of us discuss what our next plans are going to be.  And it's at this time that the guys notice that I am wearing the Dixie-A pants that made them so famous during the Olympics.  The pants aren't made like the ones I was wearing anymore. The red is far more vibrant now, but they preferred the ones I was wearing.  After the Olympics, one of the guys washed the pants in hot water, effectively turning them pink, so they did not have them anymore. They haven't revealed publicly who was the culprit that ruined the pants, but Torger Nergård did tell me not to wash the pants in 60 degree water.  

Our next stop was to walk upstairs to the suites for some photography and more video.  Lisa was kind enough to get a photo of the gaggle of pants walking.  We hijacked a suite that was empty, only to be told that it wasn't really empty and we only had a few minutes.  Nevertheless, there was another suite open, so we could move there. 

I should mention that George Karrys has a great opportunity should Joan Rivers ever retire.  I know, she won't really retire.  Ever.  But if she does, George would make a great fashion reporter.  He was asking each of us what we were wearing as we were walking.  I think the carpet might have even been red!  I should add that not everyone knew exactly what pattern they were wearing - I did, but I consider it my job to know these things.   

We finished photos in the hijacked suite.  First, the team was photographed with the family of the photographer, which I thought was really nice.   

Next, it was my turn.  And they wanted me on the couch, in the middle.  I wasn't quite sure how five grown men were going to fit on this little couch.  As an aside - I was the tallest member of the group.  But not by much.  Håvard Vad Petersson was almost eye-to-eye with me.  So, fitting all of us on the couch was cozy.  But we managed.  

After that, George wanted one more shot.  Me, across all their laps. Uh, well, sure, I guess so.... and in my head, I am going "That is the MOST AWESOME idea I've ever heard anyone ever have!!!!!" I'd be lying if I said I didn't have that idea in my head myself, but I wasn't going to suggest it. Oh, no, not me, never, I'm not that forward.  

The team was completely into it!  "Chris, you get his head, Håvard, you get his feet!"  That made for a fantastic shot!  After that great, GREAT shot, we did a little more taping, and George asked me if I had anything to say to the team.  Now, I didn't say everything I wanted to say, but I did say some. What I wanted  to do was thank them for not suing me, for appreciating what I was doing, and really, for helping in a small way to get me through a very tough year of my life.  

All I did was thank them.

At that point, we did get ushered out of that suite, but we did get ushered into a different suite, where more video was taken.  One of these videos was a promotional video for the Curling News that I hope is available online someday.  Those guys are natural actors.  The other was a personal message to Loudmouth Golf's management team, which I will not spoil (I doubt Larry Jackson is reading this anyway).   All I will say is that I agree with the sentiments they expressed, and I will be discussing those sentiments in future blog posts.

It was here that they also signed a pair of pants for me.  That's right.  I brought them pants to sign.  They thankfully all signed down one leg, with one exception.  Christoffer Svae, their second and the guy who chose the pants (and whose wedding I better get invited to when it happens) wrote an extra message in the inside waistband.  Those who visit my house will see it proudly displayed when it is mounted.  Have to mount that thing! 

But none of that is what you came to hear. You want to hear about the guys.

We all left the suite and went to the bar down the hall.  At that point, Thomas Ulsrud started taking our drink orders, because he was buying the first round.  5 (Molson) Canadians, 1 Coors Light for Lisa.  I don't think Thomas ended up buying that round - I think George did.  At any rate, it was a very VERY large beer.  He cheered (Skol!?) and then started drinking.

An executive from Capital One - Grand Slam of Curling sponsor - walked up and started chatting with us, too.  He didn't think too much of me at first - I mean, after all, who was I? - until he was told by the others about my little Facebook page.  After that he was friendlier, and gave me a bit of a behind-the-scenes look at big-time event sponsorship.  He left us to give out a large check to someone.  He had stopped by to request that the guys visit a little girl in a suite down the hall.

At that point, George told us all some stories about the curling at the Nagano Olympics.  For those who were not aware (I was by that time, but only just), George Karrys was the lead on the silver-medal-winning Canadian Olympic curling team that went to the Olympics in Nagano in 1998 (and had Mike Harris not been sick, would have won gold).  It was very difficult to follow Olympic curling in the United States that year - CBS was not covering it well at all.  Luckily, CBC, which I was able to watch via CHEX-TV in Peterborough, ON, did a better job covering it, so I saw this match!

And I got to hear yet another version of the story of how the Pants came to be worn in Vancouver.  Apparently, the Norwegian women's snowboard team were a fan of these Pants, and so they were going to be worn, and not the black ones that the Norwegian Olympic Committee had provided.

And I got to hear a lot of nice compliments from all five men about my little Facebook page. I stayed on topic, and during the Olympics (before the controversy that took the page down for awhile), I spoke in the voice of The Pants.  That was well-received, as was my handling of negative comments.

As an aside, I get a lot of comments on the page that curling is "gay", the pants are "gay", all this is stupid and I should just quit.  These comments are in the vast minority, and for that I thank people.  I leave a lot of these comments up.  On purpose.  And I try to put a positive spin on their statements, even encouraging them to go buy some pants and take up curling. Frankly, I think these statements make the people saying them look ignorant.  There are some terribly vile statements that I have removed - no good can come from those. In those cases, the user also gets banned from the page.  Finally, there are some spammers who are awfully proud that they got a free iPad in the mail, despite their initial skepticism.  Those posts also get deleted as I find them.

At this point, George has other things to do - he did have a little event going on down on the ice.  We said our goodbyes, and he ordered me to stay with the team as long as they'd let me.  So the six of us - the team, Lisa and I - went for a walk, and we talked about curling and pants.  And Thomas wanted to make sure I was having fun - he asked me that several times, in fact.  What a life - wearing pants and curling, drinking some beers.

They arrived at the suite where the little girl/fan was, and wow! She was surprised.  They talked with her a few minutes, snapped a few pictures, and gave her the thrill of her life.  I stayed outside - my presence wasn't going to give her the thrill of her life!

We walked back over to the bar together after that.  On the way, Thomas took his leave of us for a bit, disappearing behind a curtain.  I later looked over and saw him watching the matches on-ice.  I think he just needed a bit of time to clear his head.

The rest of us joined a group in a suite near the bar.  They were kind enough to let us barge in and enjoy the matches with them.  I talked mostly with Torger (who plays my natural third position, so I was getting curling pointers from him) and Chris (who is a larger-than-life personality).  Håvard was far more reserved and kept to himself, although he did also share some curling pointers.

That's right.  I was picking Olympian brains to make my club curling better.

The guys were not in a great mood.  They felt they should be still playing, down on the ice.  They had, in fact, attempted to switch their flights to return to Norway a day earlier.  They could not, and so they were in the building to meet me.  I also found out that none of them considers themselves to be professional curlers.  They make enough to cover expenses, and really not much more than that.  They all have day jobs - only Chris Svae's is curling-related.

After a bit, Thomas did join us.  He started by buying a second round of drinks - so Thomas Ulsrud did buy me a beer - and then we talked some more about curling.  And pants.  And how women love the pants.     He did admit that they were unhappy with their play on the previous day, and that Kevin Martin really does have their number (they are 1-12 against him).  And he was clear that they would be back in Canada to play with the best curlers in the world.

While in the suite, I also was approached by a couple of people who wanted to buy the pants for their team.  I have their contact information, and I will get back to them this week.  Not that I see any profits from these sales anymore, but I do really feel that these are the best curling pants I've ever worn.

A few more pictures, and it was time for the gents to part.  They wanted to change - well, some of them did, anyway - but they had expressed hope to catch up with me later.  That was not to be, as I was heading home that evening.  I wish I had more time with them, but sadly, I didn't.

I did have two more pieces of business to attend to.   First, I had a tweep - Cheryl - to find.  Cheryl was a Twitter friend - she still is - who tweets about curling.  You should be following her.  I went down to the ice level to watch a little curling and look for Cheryl.  And I found her, straight across the arena.  Lisa and I walked over to meet her, we had a short conversation, and I said my goodbyes.  Very nice young lady, who really should come down to Rochester and show us Americans how to curl.

The other piece of business was to find and thank my new friend George Karrys, without whom none of this would be possible.  This was a simple task... he was in the Canadian Open war room.  We took a picture as well.  And he wished us safe travels and good luck in my new job.

This is why the curling community is so great.   Everyone is kind - even really great, accomplished curlers are kind to fans and club curlers - and everyone pays attention.  Over this weekend, I was called a "big name in the curling world."  I don't quite agree with that - I did get a few people to try curling and a lot more to pay attention to the sport I love - but I appreciated the sentiment.  And frankly, it doesn't matter who is a big name or a small one.  We are curlers (and fans).

I was not happy to have to leave, but I did leave and started on my drive home.  And reflected on what my next big-time curling event would be.  I'm not sure what it will be yet - the Brier, Worlds, or something else - but you will know as soon as I do.  And rest assured, there will be another event.  And another meeting with the Norges.


  1. Finally the post we've been waiting for. It's very exciting you got to meet them! I'm glad it was a fun experience.

  2. Still want Pants... need Pants... Pants