Curlers seek more exposure

ANGELA MACISAAC -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:27 AM ET

Christine Keshen would do it.

She would shed her clothes and pose nude for a curling calendar.

If it was for a good cause and tastefully done, that is.

"I'm pretty sure my teammates think the other way," said Keshen. "I'm the wild one on the team. I say bring it on."

The curling world was thrown a curveball yesterday when Ana Arce, a photographer who skipped the Andorran women's team for three seasons before moving to Spain this year, released her fundraising calendar -- nude black-and-white images of female curlers from around Europe, plus two Canadians.

All proceeds will be split between the teams of the curlers who pose in the calendar, called the Ana Arce Team Sponsorship Calendar 2006.

Keshen, who curls with skip Shannon Kleibrink, third Amy Nixon and second Glenys Bakker, said it's high time curling gave itself a kick in the pants.

Keshen even left her job at Imperial Oil because the company wasn't willing to accommodate a schedule designed to prepare the Kleibrink rink for the Canadian Olympic curling trials in Halifax, Dec. 3-11.

"We need something, a boost," said the 27-year-old Keshen. "We need to sexify curling because sex sells. It's where the money is.

"Last year, sponsors were pumping money into curling because there was no (NHL) hockey. Now everyone is hockey crazy again and spiels are getting cancelled because there is no money."

She likens the situation to tennis where Anna Kournikova earned heaps of sponsorship due to her beauty and playing abilities.

"She was a good tennis player," Keshen said. "She wouldn't have got the sponsorship if she wasn't any good.

"Some curlers are beautiful. At the end of the day, if it helps the entire sport, it's great."

Arce told Canadian Press she hoped the calendar would change the image of curling.

"I've been playing for eight years and there are so many beautiful girls playing and nobody knows it," Arce said. "I doubt that anyone is going to be shocked."

Shocked? No.

Not according to the reactions of many curlers yesterday.

Jennifer Jones, the pretty Winnipegger who stole hearts while winning the 2005 Scott Tournament of Hearts, said she's too shy to consider posing.

Curling queen Colleen Jones once lamented the lack of interest in the women's sport and suggested somebody get naked to grab attention.

"I wasn't asked. Should I be insulted?" she asked the Edmonton Sun yesterday. "Part of me wants to be outraged but if this gets them the money to compete and generates interest, I guess I'm for it.

"Taking your clothes off would be one way to make people stop and take notice."

And it's not like it hasn't been done before -- even in Canada.

The Canadian women's rugby, water polo and cross-country ski teams have all done similar calendars to raise funds for training and competition.

Could there be a men's curling calendar on the horizon?

Keshen, who was cited as a 'hottie' last spring on a curlingzone.com thread called Sex in Curling, said it does have its possibilities. But who would be selected to pose?

"Hmm, definitely Dave Nedohin and Scott Pfeifer," she said laughing. "Oh and Brad Gushue. Definitely.

"But male curlers aren't always that sexy. It's not like they're tennis players."


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