Loudmouth Golf

Remember those pants?

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VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA – Though Canada’s curling success at the Vancouver Games was a highlight for the curling-crazed host nation, the biggest headliner from the Vancouver Olympic Centre came from an unlikely source – the pants of the Norwegian team. Three years later and just 60 miles away from 2010 Olympic curling venue, Norway’s pants were still the talk of the curling world at the 2013 World Men’s Curling Championships in Victoria.

The story behind the pants begins shortly before the 2010 Winter Olympics, when Norway’s national Olympic committee outfitted Thomas Ulsrud’s squad with rather dull, all black uniforms for the tournament. Ulsrud’s teammate Christoffer Svae, an enterprising 31-year-old from Oslo, thought the team should be more patriotic and purchased several checkered pairs of pants with the Norwegian colors of red, blue, and white. As soon as the Norwegians took the ice for their first game, the pants were an immediate sensation. Most major international news agencies interviewed the team and a Facebook fan page developed nearly half a million followers. Though the athletes and coaches were initially worried the attention would become a distraction, the Norwegians made it all the way to the gold medal match, where they earned silver.

The team now considers the decision the best choice they’ve ever made, as a lucrative sponsorship deal with the manufacturer, Loudmouth Golf, has not only kept them in the spotlight, but also allowed several of them to focus more on curling. Loudmouth Golf, which sports fans might recognize as John Daly’s outfitter, provides the rink with about 50 pairs of pants for the year and gives them a percentage of all sales in Scandinavia, a market in which Loudmouth had zero traction until sales exploded during the Vancouver Games.

In Victoria, the Norwegians had three different pairs of pants at their disposal, but Svae says he is still working on which pants will be used at the Olympics next year. In terms of their performance, Ulsrud, a 41-year-old married father, was a bit disappointed with his squad’s fifth-place finish at Worlds, but noted the 2010 and 2011 European champions were without one of their regulars in Victoria, as Torger Nergaard was home with his wife, who was expecting their first child.

Now that Ulsrud’s team has qualified for the Sochi Games, expect the pants to be in the spotlight once again next February.


Carolina Kostner wants to return to competition

Carolina Kostner
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MILAN (AP) — With her suspension coming to an end, Olympic bronze medalist Carolina Kostner already has her sights set on the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang.

The Italian figure skater will be eligible to return to competition on Jan. 1 after serving a suspension for helping her ex-boyfriend evade doping controls.

”The desire is there, and it includes also obviously a possible Olympics,” the 28-year-old Kostner said Tuesday.

Kostner received clearance this week from the Court of Arbitration for Sport to return to competition next year after agreeing to have her 16-month suspension extended by five months, but then backdated, freeing her to skate earlier than anticipated.

As part of the agreement, Kostner also agreed to act as a spokeswoman against doping, her lawyer said.

But Kostner said it was too soon to lay out a program for her comeback.

”Knowing that I can return to competition in 2016 gives me great strength and great serenity to make a decision,” Kostner said.

Italian skating federation president Andrea Gioss said it would be difficult for Kostner to qualify for the European Championships from Jan. 25-31 because of time constraints. She would have time to qualify for the World Championships in Boston in March by picking up points at sanctioned international competitions.

As she has in the past, Kostner admitted she ”made an error,” by helping her ex-boyfriend, Olympic race walking gold medalist Alex Schwazer, evade a doping test and other infractions. She has said she was unaware he was doping.

”This period for me was a moment of great growth and maturation,” she said, adding she has broken off all contact with Schwazer but did not wish him ill.

Kostner, who missed out on the Worlds last year but won bronze at the Sochi Olympics, said she has been concentrating on the artistic aspects of skating since the suspension took effect in January, and will be able to return to full training in federation-sanctioned rinks from Nov. 1. In the meantime, she is preparing for an ice show in Verona this week, and spent last winter in a dance studio practicing ballet.

Kostner said she misses competing but that she had nothing to prove by returning to the rink.

”I have a big trove of experience, Olympics that have gone well, Olympics gone badly, falls, getting back up,” Kostner said. ”In a certain sense, I feel the desire and need to give it all meaning, if only to be part of a team and have the young future Italian champion turn to me and ask advice, `You, at those moments, what did you do?”’

MORE FIGURE SKATING: New star emerges at Japan Open

Rio Olympics cutting costs with Brazil deep in recession

Rio de Janeiro Olympic rings
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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Olympic organizers, faced with the reality of a country deep in recession, are trimming costs to keep their budget balanced.

To keep spending in line, officials say they will cut back on printed material, reduce staffing at dozens of test events and trim costs for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics and Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro.

“This is a very strict budget,” said Sidney Levy, the organizing committee’s chief executive officer. “There’ll be no excess, but we are not going to compromise the essentials.”

Levy has said often over the last few months he will trim costs and cut non-essential purchases.

News of the budget austerity comes as hundreds of journalists from around the world are in Rio this week visiting Olympic venues and talking with organizers about how the Games will run when they open Aug. 5, 2016.

The organizing committee’s budget remains at 7.4 billion reals ($2 billion), which is for putting on the games themselves. It does not include building venues, subway lines and highways to help stage the games.

Operating income is from ticket sales, local sponsorships, merchandising and licensing with the largest contribution from the International Olympic Committee.

Brazil hosted the World Cup last year with year-long protests leading up to the event. Now the Olympics are causing a strain.

Brazil’s currency has lost 70 percent of its value against the dollar in the last year and inflation is running at 10 percent. The economy is expected to remain in a steep recession through the games, and there are calls to impeach President Dilma Rousseff, partly driven by a $2 billion bribery scandal involving state-run oil company Petrobras.

Olympic organizers face other problems.

The venues for sailing, rowing, canoeing, triathlon and open water swimming are heavily polluted with viruses and bacteria with only stop-gap measures possible to contain the problem. Organizers have said athletes are not at risk, though some athletes have openly questioned competing in the dirty water.

An Associated Press study published on July 30 showed high levels of viruses in all of Rio’s water. Organizers say they are looking at viral testing but do not plan to move any venues.

MORE RIO 2016: Watch Rio Olympic park venue progress video