14 March 2011

Brazil - Curling's Next Hotbed

I need to preface this post by saying that I am COMPLETELY trying to score a free trip to Brazil.  No doubt about it.

Most of the readers of this blog know that I run this little Facebook fan page. Another post has told the story of that page. I have considered writing a book about it, in fact.  Today, I'm going to give you some insight on the demographics. 

These demos have changed slightly since the Olympics.  The country at the bottom of this list - Brazil - has fallen from their peaks. Brazil was running over 8,000 member at their peak, and are the country where the greatest percentage of fans have departed.

It is important to note that I do not post in Portuguese - I don't know the language all that well.  I did post once in Portuguese, thanks to Google Translate.   And it is important to note that there is no coverage of curling in Brazil, outside of a little bit of Olympic coverage.  At all.  They are a soccer (football, to those so inclined) and Formula 1 racing country.    

Frankly, I am jealous of their soccer fandom.  That is a very exciting sport, and it's one that the United States has largely ignored, except for the abundance of youth programs.  One could say that the abundance of youth programs is helping the popularity and quality of soccer in this country, and curling could well benefit from the same treatment.  But, I digress.

As a fringe benefit of running The Norwegian Olympic Curling Team's Pants, I have the privilege of being friends with some terrific Brazilian women who between them run two fantastic curling blogs.  Thanks to the magic of Twitter, I had a conversation with Natalia Alvim, who runs the absolutely fabulous Curlingpédia.  Here are some of the highlights:

American Curler: Why curling?  Did it get a lot of Olympic coverage?
NataliaBecause it's exciting...non-stop!  If I get up and go to the kitchen to take a glass of water I'll probably miss a great shot.  I like the strategy, too. I think curling combines all the thrill of an exciting game like basketball and all the keenness of chess.
American CurlerAre you planning to see live curling anytime? Have you seen live curling?
Natalia: I've never seen live curling and I would love to go to a live game...my biggest problem is  taking vacations.  I'm a medical doctor (Occupational medicine); usually I can't plan my trips.
American CurlerBrazil is big on futbol, if I'm correct?
NataliaOh yeah soccer runs inside of the blood of lots of Brazilians. It's passion.  Some people say to see a game in Maracanã stadium, it's indescribable.
American CurlerDid you curl last winter when curling came to Brazil?
NataliaUnfortunately no. That event took place in São Paulo. I live in Rio de Janeiro. I just couldn't go. I was probably working or taking classes
American CurlerYours is not the only Brazilian Curling blog. Do you read others and are they friends or competition?
NataliaI read Curling Brasil. I think Ana (Chousenshi) is doing an amazing job; she knows a lot about the game. (Editor's note: yeah, Ana really does)
American Curler: I think hers predates the Olympics.
Natalia: Oh yeah the former owner of the blog created Curling Brasil before the Olympics.
American Curler: How did you come up with the name Curlingpédia? This is your 2nd blog, right?
NataliaI like the "pedia" suffix. I choose Curlingpédia because I really would like Brazilians to learn about curling from my blog, learn about types of shots: what does a "peel" mean, for example. I'm just waiting the end of the season to focus on this kind of posts. My first blog was "The curling addicts." I like the name but I think it felt a little weird. I wrote mostly about goodies, online games...
American CurlerYeah, that's how I found Cow Curling. So, you and Ana are going to qualify for Sochi, right?
NataliaLOL I wish I could!
American CurlingCheryl Bernard and Kevin Martin are both in their 40s. I haven't given up the dream. But yes. It takes years.
NataliaOh yeah but they curl since their childhood, but who knows everything is possible I'd love to be a senior curling champion hee hee...

Thank you to Natalia for being such a good sport!  

Brazil is serious about curling.  They are the only country that I know of that has ever challenged the United States for a spot in the World Championships. Not bad for a country on a continent that had never had curling ice until last winter (which is summer in the United States)! 

But there is reason to believe that Brazil will eventually excel at the sport.  They have exported players to Canada (the team that challenged the United States were Brazilians living in Quebec).  They, like Australia and Russia, have put out a call to the curling world for elite curlers to come in and assist their efforts.

And look at what they've done with soccer!  Brazilians are some of the best sports fans in the world. I spoke earlier of the soccer fervor.  They've also been exporters of great auto racers - Emerson Fittipaldi, Ayrton Senna to name a couple - and they support their racers.  Domestic stock car races - not even world-class racing - routinely draws 35,000 fans.  The F1 race in São Paolo has traditionally been a huge draw for tourists, let alone locals! Imagine 35,000 Brazilians cheering for a national curling team.  

And so I respond to the call from Brazil!  I am a decent curler who just needs a chance! I'm ready, willing, and able to come down to Brazil.  I will train with your best curlers in Quebec or in Rio - your choice.  I even have a clothing sponsor already! Work with me, and I will work with you.

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