Thomas Ulsrud, Norway Olympic curling skip, dies after cancer battle

Thomas Ulsrud
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Thomas Ulsrud, the skip of Norway’s 2010 Olympic silver-medal-winning curling team whose flashy pants were a sensation, died Tuesday at age 50 after an 18-month cancer battle, according to his former team and confirmed by Norway’s curling federation.

“Thomas has been fighting cancer since December 2020, but the last week it took a turn for the worse and in the end he was gone very quickly,” was posted on the social media of Team Ulsrud, which disbanded in 2019. “We the team are devastated for our loss.”

In 2010, Team Ulsrud became celebrities at the Vancouver Olympics on their way to winning silver medals. Their checkered pants were among the most memorable images of the Games.

From NBC Olympic research:

Shortly before the Vancouver Olympics, the Norway Olympic Committee outfitted Ulsrud’s team with dull, all black uniforms. Team member Christoffer Svae differed and bought several pairs of argyle pants with Norwegian colors of red, blue and white.

The night before their first game, the Norwegians sat together in a room in the Olympic Village, contemplating whether wearing the pants was a good idea. They found fellow Norwegian skiers and snowboarders across the hall and asked the women for their opinion. They told the men they thought they were cool, so Svae said, “Boys, the young girls dig this. We’re doing this.”

As soon as the Norwegians took the ice for their first game, the pants were an immediate sensation. A Facebook fan page gained nearly half a million followers. They ended up signing a lucrative sponsorship deal with Loudmouth Golf, John Daly‘s outfitter.

Ulsrud later called it “the best decision we’ve ever made” as a team.

“I think that’s the closest I’ve been to feeling like a pop star,” Ulsrud said afterward, specifically mentioning walking in downtown Vancouver one night, according to NBC Olympic research. “People had had a couple of drinks, and a couple girls asked me to marry them. I signed something like 200 autographs and pictures. I had the whole gig going. That was my five minutes of fame right there.”

Ulsrud skipped Norway again at the Olympics in 2014 and 2018, again with unique pants. He also led Norway to a world title in 2014.