NORTH BATTLEFORD, Sask. — It's hard to forget about those fancy curling pants from Norway.
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Thomas Ulsrud and his Norwegian squad bolted into the curling fashion limelight at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver by wearing their splashy, patterned pants. For years they garnered a lot of attention at every bonspiel for them.
Norway second Christoffer Svae was the one behind his team's trademark eye-catching attire. The Norwegians were preparing for the Games when a miscommunication left them with less-than-desirable uniforms.
Svae took charge and ordered the first wave of flashy pants that became the team's signature look.
"We were going to practice with them but never play in them," Svae said. "But the last day of practice before the Olympics we were talking to some other Norwegian athletes from snowboarding and they said we should wear them."
The rest is history.
But if you assumed it was about to catch on in curling, think again. In a lot of ways, curling is reserved for the traditional — stepping outside of that familiar vibe is often frowned upon.
"Our sport is so conservative and singular. Why do we need to follow that mould when there are so many people in the sport who aren't that way?" Colin Hodgson said.
"We're pigeon-holing people into acting and looking a certain way and suppressing the flair that could exist in the sport."
Going out on a limb
Hodgson is the lead for Team Carruthers out of Manitoba. He's best-known for his funky hairstyles, something he started years ago after watching the Brad Pitt movie Fury.
"I still get some looks sometimes but growing up I've realized I'm not happy when I care about what those people say," Hodgson said. "Leads don't get that much attention so I have to find a way to stand out. I'm living in the shadow of Reid and Mike [McEwen]."
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Hodgson wants to change the way people view curling through what the players are wearing. That's why a few years ago he started his own apparel company called Dynasty Curling with business partner Faron Asham.
"One of the first jerseys we did was something crazy, the Viking uniform for Edin. This was five years ago. That just changed it all. They wanted to go out on a limb. We saw how popular it was immediately and our company exploded because of it," Hodgson said.
There were four teams who took a chance on Hodgson's company early on. Teams skipped by Edin, Chelsea Carey, Kerri Einarson and Val Sweeting all signed up to be the first to wear Dynasty Curling uniforms.
"They kind of took a chance on us. My own team wasn't even using my apparel because we had a previous sponsorship," says Hodgson.
Now he is the official clothier of more than 1,000 rinks from 25 different countries, including the team of former NFL players skipped by Jared Allen.
"They're wearing our apparel. I got that call in the middle of the summer this year and had to keep it quiet until they announced they would be curling and wearing them," Hodgson said.
It's been a wild fashion curling journey for Hodgson who just secured the contract for Curling Canada events over the next four years. He hopes to push the limits when it comes to traditional looks in the traditional game.
"It's going away from the boring and conservative to bright and vibrant. It's going along with the movement," he said.
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White belts and Technicolor trousers
One of the first teams to really shake things up was Team Howard when they introduced white belts to their wardrobe. At the time, it was something Glenn Howard says just wasn't the norm.
"I'm still wearing it," Howard said, laughing. "I think it was Richie Hart back in the day who came up with that when Craig, Brent and I played together."
Howard said they were always wearing white belts golfing and thought they could do it on the ice too. But it wasn't always met with a positive response.
"We kind of got the hairy eyeball for a while but if you see the junior curlers are all wearing them, I love the way the game is going."
This week in North Battleford, Rylan Kleiter's Saskatchewan rink had psychedelic pants — similar to some of the Norwegians' finest. They were also met with some side-eyes at times.
Howard, who has been around the game longer than most on the ice, says he wants to see more of it.
"It spices up our game. I think it's great. We're all wearing black pants. Brad Gushue is wearing blue. McEwen had the red pair years ago. "I love the fact the there are new pants coming out."