Loudmouth Golf

Remember those pants?

1 Comment

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.


Ashley Wagner leads U.S. 1-2 at Skate America

Leave a comment

Ashley Wagner bolstered her international reputation again, winning Skate America on Saturday in her first top-level full competition since her world championships silver medal in April.

Wagner totaled 196.44 points over two programs in Hoffman Estates, Ill., holding off countrywoman Mariah Bell by 4.85 points. U.S. champion Gracie Gold was fifth. Full results are here.

“The short program was definitely one of my world-class programs,” Wagner said on NBC. “Long program, I left a little bit out on the table.”

Wagner, who led by 3.75 points after Friday’s short program, was flawed in her free skate, including singling the back end of a jump combination and under-rotating two more jumps.

Still it was enough to overtake Bell, who had the highest free skate score by 3.73 points but was sixth in the short program.

It marked the first U.S. women’s one-two in a Grand Prix event since 2012 Skate America (Wagner and Christina Gao).

“I’m starting to realize my own potential and believe in myself,” Bell, who shares a coach with Wagner, said on NBC. “I’m very excited for the future.”

Gold fell in both of her programs as she tries to bounce back from dropping from first to fourth at last season’s world championships. Gold had her lowest Grand Prix finish (excluding Grand Prix Final) since her debut at 2012 Skate Canada.

Wagner notched her fifth career Grand Prix series win (only Michelle Kwan and Sasha Cohen own more among U.S. women). Wagner joined Kwan as the only women to bag multiple Skate America and U.S. Championships titles.

The women Wagner must be compared with are Russian teens. Wagner ended a 10-year U.S. medal drought at worlds last year, but Russia still rules women’s skating.

None of the top Russians competed at Skate America. Wagner is slated to face 2015 World gold and bronze medalists Elizaveta Tuktamysheva and Yelena Radionova at her next event, Cup of China, in four weeks.

The reigning world champion, Yevgenia Medvedeva, makes her Grand Prix season debut at Skate Canada next week. Medvedeva and Wagner could go head-to-head at the Grand Prix Final in Marseille, France, in December.

Earlier Saturday, Japan’s Shoma Uno topped the men’s short program with 89.15 points, landing one of his two quadruple jump attempts.

Uno, 18, was followed by the last two U.S. champions, Adam Rippon (87.32, no quads) and Jason Brown (85.75, fall on single quad attempt).

The men’s free skate is Sunday at 12:30 p.m. ET (NBC and NBC Sports app).

MORE: 2016-17 figure skating season broadcast schedule

Simone Schaller, oldest living Olympian, dies at 104

FILE - In this July 15, 1936, file photo, Simone Schaller, lower right, waves with members of the United States women's Olympic track and field team as they depart for Europe on the SS Manhattan. Schaller, an American hurdler who competed at the 1932 and 1936 Summer Games and was believed to be the oldest living Olympian, died of natural causes Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016,  in the Arcadia, Calif., home she and her husband built when they married in the 1930s, her grandson Jeffrey Hardy said, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016. She was 104. (AP Photo/File)
Leave a comment

ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) — Simone Schaller, an American hurdler who competed at the 1932 and 1936 Summer Games and was believed to be the oldest living Olympian, has died. She was 104.

Grandson Jeffrey Hardy said Saturday that Schaller died of natural causes Thursday in the home she and her husband built when they married in the 1930s.

Schaller tied Babe Didrikson Zaharias for the world record in the first round of the 80-meter hurdles at the 1932 Los Angeles Games. Schaller finished fourth in the final behind Didrikson, who set another record. According to Olympic historian David Wallechinsky, Schaller had taken up hurdling only three months earlier.

At the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Schaller made it to the semifinals.

She won the hurdles at the 1933 U.S. Championships. She was also an avid tennis player.

Schaller had three children, seven grandchildren, a dozen great-grandchildren and numerous great-great-grandchildren.

MORE: Australia gold medalist gets mole removed after heads-up from fan