OLYMPIC NOTEBOOK

In colorful pants, curlers are no worse for the wear

By From News Services
Monday, February 15, 2010

The Norwegians are looking for any way to bring more interest in curling to their country, even if that means sporting bold, diamond-printed pants in their nation's colors for the next two weeks.

They plan to wear them the whole way. What a bright change from the basic black of many team uniforms.

"Why not?" Christoffer Svae said. "Everybody else is playing in black. We can spice things up a bit."

"Do something different. Bring in some color," said Torger Nergaard.

Svae had been searching for months to find red pants for him and his teammates to wear in Vancouver, then came across the stretchy, lightweight golf pants in the funky print.

"The boys knew I was looking for something like that. I found them last minute," said Svae, who ordered the pants online and had them waiting when the team arrived in Edmonton about a week ago.

It took some getting used to, but the rest of the squad is now on board with them -- even if Coach Ole Ingvaldsen hopes his 87-year-old mother, Gerd, doesn't see him on television in this getup.

"Everybody thought black was a bit dull, so we tried for red. This was the closest we could get," Ingvaldsen said. "I don't like them. I hope my mother doesn't see them. She should rest in peace [one day] without having seen them. I will probably get used to it."

The fortysomethings

American curler Tracy Sachtjen will celebrate her 41st birthday during the Olympics on Saturday, and doesn't need reminding she's the oldest athlete on the U.S. team.

She posed for a photo recently with 16-year-old Ashley Caldwell, the freestyle aerialist who is the same age as Sachtjen's daughter, Sierra.

American men's curler John Benton, dubbed "great-grandpa" by his teammates because he's more than a decade older than all of them, plus his coach, is also a 40-something -- four months younger than Sachtjen. Benton doesn't feel too old, though, being a few years junior to Canada's curling skip Kevin Martin, and considerably younger than Mexican Alpine skier Hubertus von Hohenlohe, who turned 51 earlier this month.

"It's a very cool thing," Benton said of the two oldest Americans being curlers.

Cauldron fenced off

Olympic organizers say they're going to keep a majestic outdoor cauldron fenced off from the public, but might try to replace the chain-link fence with something more photogenic.

There have been numerous complaints that the fence near the downtown waterfront obstructed clear views of the cauldron and sent the wrong kind of message for an Olympics.

Vancouver Organizing Committee spokeswoman Renee Smith-Valade said at a briefing Sunday that some sort of barrier would remain because of security and safety problems that might arise if the public were allowed close access. But she said VANOC was looking into replacing the chain-link fence with something that would be more accommodating to photographs.


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