Where'd you get those pants?
At the 2014 Olympics, the fact that the Norwegian men’s curling team dresses far differently than its competitors will be a given.
However, when Norway debuted its colorful pants at the 2010 Olympics, it was a revelation.
Actually, for Thomas Ulsrud, Christoffer Svae, Håvard Vad Petersson and Torger Nergård, their choice to step outside the bounds of conventional curling – and human – clothing standards was a tremendous gamble.
Embedded owg_slideshow: Meet the 2014 Norwegian men's curling team
“I remember thinking we better do well in these Olympics (when the pants debuted),” says Ulsrud, the team’s skip. “I knew that this could be really good, or that this could go really bad.
“If we played bad in the Olympics wearing these pants, it would have been easy for the media to make fun of us.
“We put pressure on ourselves. But, we were confident that we could handle it.”
Given that the Norwegians went out in Vancouver and won silver medals while wearing pants on a global stage that an ordinary person might be embarrassed to wear even in the privacy of their own dark bedroom, it turns out that Ulsrud was in no way overconfident.
But while Ulsrud, as the team’s skip, personified the Norwegians’ confidence, the idea to literally shake up the Vancouver Olympics originated with the team’s second, Christoffer Svae.
“We all had the idea that we wanted to have some sort of colored pants in one of our native colors – red or blue,” says Svae, currently age 31.
“So, I just went online and bought four pairs of these crazy-looking pants from Loudmouth (Golf).”
“We were living in the same hotel room during the pre-camp in Edmonton,” adds Ulsrud, the team’s oldest member at age 42. “He (Svae) got the stuff shipped in, and was trying them on in our hotel room.
“My first thought was: ‘Oh, you look like a drunk, Dutch speed skating fan. I’m never going to play in that!’
“It was a tough sell. But, he worked very hard to convince us.”
However, in the end, it took more than just Svae’s urging his teammates on for Norway to debut its now-patented pants in front of curling’s largest audience.
It also took some outside persuasion from members of the opposite sex.
“The one thing that tipped it over for us to wear the pants in Vancouver was that we had a really big apartment in the Olympic village – it was one of the biggest apartments, with a big TV,” adds Ulsrud.
Embedded owg_slideshow: Norway and its crazy pants take New York
“Across the hall, it was the girls who were going to do the snowboarding and ski-cross – they were living across the hall.
“They were hanging out in our apartment, watching our TV, and Chris (Svae) decided to have a whole fashion show for them, where he performed and everything.
“He comes out and is like: ‘Girls, what do you think, should we play in these, and what do you think?’
“They were like: ‘YEAH! We totally dig them.’
“As soon as the girls left, Chris is like: ‘Guys. Young girls dig these. We’re definitely playing in them.’”
Of course, when the Norwegians finally unveiled their pants to rave reviews and backed up their fashion statement with Olympic medals, their risk turned in to overwhelming rewards – legions of new fans, worldwide media attention and a lucrative new sponsorship with the pants’ manufacturer (Loudmouth Golf) being most notable among them.
“Looking back, we took a huge risk,” says Ulsrud. “But, it’s gone on to be the best thing that’s ever happened to us.”