Behind the scenes: Fancypants

The worlds of fashion and curling are not usually two areas of life you would expect to mix. However one country has broken that trend with a pair of pants that stunned the curling world.

At the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Norway’s team unleashed their now famous fancy pants into the sport, propelling them and the pants to cult status.

The idea was formulated by second player, Christoffer Svae, who was initially looking for pants with plain red or blue colours for the games.

Svae said: "To begin with it was a team decision. It was tough to find a pair that was stretchy enough to be comfortable and in a desperate attempt I went online to find some coloured pants. I found the website Loudmouth Golf clothing that sold these kinds of pants. I ordered five pairs and the rest is history.”

Initially the flamboyant patterns didn’t receive the warmest of welcomes from the rest of the team. Norwegian skip, Thomas Ulsrud was one player who needed to be persuaded.

Ulsrud said: “My first reaction was, there is no way I’m playing in those pants. We look like clowns, and if you play badly in those pants then you’ll pay the price.

“However, there were some girls living in the Norwegian Olympic village together with us. They were in there one night and he showed them off as like a fashion show.

“They thought they were pretty cool and after they left Christoffer just looked at us and said: `You know what guys, you don’t know anything about fashion, the girls dig them, you’re playing in the pants.`“

They became a hit with the crowds and it wasn’t long before they were going viral.

A Facebook page dedicated to the pants has now amassed over half a million Facebook likes. Ulsrud remembers the furore that surrounded the team after they unveiled their pants during their first game with Canada.

He said: “After the first game in Vancouver going through the mix zone the teams take 5/10 minutes. It took us almost an hour talking about the pants. We actually lost our first game against Canada in the Olympics and I remember saying we better do well in these pants or the press are going to kill us.”

Before the tournament their coach Pal Trulsen had suggested the players didn’t wear the fancy pants as it could have taken the focus away from their curling. However, going by the philosophy that any publicity is good publicity, the team went ahead with the style.

At the games they performed admirably, getting through to the final before they were beaten by Canada. Three years on, the team have no regrets.

Ulsrud said: “It was most the brilliant thing we ever did. It’s a trademark now. Whenever we travel together we get recognised because we’re the team with the crazy pants.

“I think they’re definitely good for curling. The sport needed something to happen so that was our little input into it, so someone will have to think about something else.”

They have become the norm for the Norwegian team and the rest of the players, to the point where some think they aren’t being daring enough.

Ulsrud said: “The next time we went back to Canada, we decided to bring back the original ones and mix it up with some different ones. For our first match we wore the original pair and Olympic champion Brad Gushue just looked over at me and said: 'So last year!`.”
General Manager for the Loudmouth Golf clothing company, Tracy Sanderson, told of her surprise when their involvement first came to light.

She said: “One of the members of staff saw them on TV at the Olympics. We sent them loads of pairs and offered to sponsor them and it just kicked off massively. I still have a large Norwegian customer based.

“The effect has been huge. We have had a lot of other requests from other curling teams because they’ve seen the big response people get from them. It makes the Norwegians more unique and people remember them.”

With Sochi just around the corner, the pants will surely be on display again much to the delight of both fans and players alike.

All photos © WCF /Richard Gray/Jesse Kushneryk 2013

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