Crazy curling crowds unforgettable
VANCOUVER — Curling has never been anything like this before. Curling has never seen anything like this before.
The curlers of the world, including Canada’s Kevin Martin with gold and Cheryl Bernard with silver, are leaving a scene like they’ll never experience again.
And when it came to a conclusion, many curlers were almost in tears that it was over.
“I’m just so sad that it ended like this and we’ll never get to play in front of those raving fans any more,” said Canadian women’s lead Cori Bartel.
It was wild and crazy and unusual for curling, from the ear-bursting start to the end when John Morris sat in the hack waiting to throw his rock until the crowd had finished an impromptu rendition of O Canada.
You could make a case that it all started with a pair of pants.
The jester-like, diamond-patterned pants Norway wore against Martin in the first draw of the tournament became such a huge hit that when Norway’s King Harald came to the venue to watch a game, the players presented him with his own pair.
In addition to the King of Norway, the King of Sweden, Carl XVI Gustav, Princess Anne of Great Britain, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Carl Lewis, Wayne Gretzky, Mike Weir and Donald Sutherland also watched games.
There was Kristie Moore of Grande Prairie becoming the most-pregnant (five months) woman ever to compete in the Olympic Winter Games when she was brought in as a substitute for one end.
There was eventual gold medallist Anette Nordstrom of Sweden explaining why they hadn’t had much success since winning gold four years ago in Turin: “Divorces and babies. Two of each.”
There were examinations of curlers, men’s curlers, as sex symbols.
“I am never,” Martin said, “going to be a sex symbol.”
There was Mirjam Ott of Switzerland, the favorite in the women’s event, crashing and burning with three early losses, battling back with six straight wins and then losing both games in the medal round.
There was co-favourite David Murdoch of Great Britain, the defending world champion with a four-game winning streak against Martin, not even making it to the medal round.
There were the American teams, on an avalanche of pre-Games publicity including stops on the late night talk shows, having horrible Olympics. The coaches even benched men’s skip John Shuster for a game.
There was Niklas ‘Tin Cup’ Edin of Sweden and his quad takeout in the bronze medal game, though he ultimately gave away the bronze to Switzerland.
No missed shots came close to being as memorable, however, as the ones by Bernard in the 10th and 11th ends of the women’s gold-medal game.
With gold on the line after Norberg had twice missed spectacularly to give the gold away earlier, the Bernard twice missed routine shots to win it.
A total of 7.5 million watched women’s curling in Canada alone. It was unbelievable.