April 26, 2010

The ABCs of Curling - X

illum_x is for X-Rated. If the nineties was the decade curling discovered it had an audience, this will be remembered as the decade curling discovered it had sex appeal. Several internet lists of "Olympic Hotties" at the 2010 Vacouver games were topped by 43-year-old Canadian skip Cheryl Bernard, and included many other curling athletes - women and men included. But this was not always the way.

In 1987, with the Calgary Olympic games around the corner and curling included as a demonstration sport, the Canadian Curling Association issued a directive to several national level curlers expected to compete at that year's Olympic trials: lose weight. Ed Werenich, a former Canadian and World champion, considered one of the favourites to represent Canada the following year, took great umbrage at the threat of being excluded from the trials if the national body did not consider him 'fit enough.' If a team is winning at an elite level, what matter if the members weigh two hundred, or even three hundred pounds, he argued. He and his vice, Paul Savage, threatened to show up to the trials with a case of beer as a training aid, and a local exotic dancer as their official coach. In the end, cooler heads prevailed, and Eddie showed up without "Marina" and eighteen pounds lighter - a fact on which he blames his loss to this day (the weight difference, not the lack of a stripper).

In the end, the CCA needn't have worried. The general rise in the level of competition in the upper echelons of the game over the past two decades has resulted in elite level curlers looking to improve their overall fitness levels in order to remain competetive on the world stage. Kevin Martin's Olympic gold medal winning squad became so devoted to their fitness regimens it led vice John Morris to write a book about curling specific exercise routines.

In 2006, following on the rousing success of naked or nearly naked fundraising calendars from firefighters, golfers, skeptics (and skep-chicks), and quilting guilds, Andorrran professional photographer and competetive curler Ana Arce convinced a dozen world-class curling women to pose nude or semi-nude for their own calendar, Fire on Ice. The project was successful enough to spawn a 2007 version. It lapsed in 2008, but was revived in '09 and published again this year.

Clearly, even in curling, sex sells.

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Call me Paul said...

Yes, clearly the calendars cannot truly be considered "X-rated." I'm stretching here. Give me a break, it's 'X'.