After spending several years in the shadow of Paal Trulsen's rink, Thomas Ulsrud has assumed the role of skip for the Norwegian curling team. Trulsen became legendary in Norway after skipping the squad to Olympic gold in 2002 - with King Harald V watching in the stands. Trulsen said then, "There are other very good teams from Norway that are younger - and better looking too!" Ulsrud says that though he's won three world championship bronze medals, Trulsen is still "Mr. Curling" in Norway and gets recognized on the street.
After an Ulsrud-skipped Norwegian team finished a disappointing eighth at the 2007 Worlds, the rink added two younger players into the mix: Christoffer Svae and Havard Petersson. Though both are more than 10 years younger than Ulsrud, he says that the age difference is perfect. The team practices together three days a week, and each curler spends time in individual sessions. Ulsrud says that since curling is becoming more competitive, the team has done more fitness training over the summers.
Tanned and talented
The bronze-faced Ulsrud owns two of the largest tanning salons in all of Norway, where he employs 16 employees, young females only. His friends are always asking to come to the holiday party. His girlfriend helps run the business when he's curling. He tells her, "You bring food to the table, I bring fame to the family."
Pretty in pink?
Ulsrud and his young rink have won the hearts of curling fans with their hip appeal. In addition to its strong play, the team also has drawn attention for its bright pink belts. When asked their purpose, second Christoffer Svae responded, "Why not? There's not enough pink in North America." Norway and its pink belts will remain a medal contender in Vancouver.
As the pilot for the USA-1 bobsled, I broke a 62-year gold medal drought when my sled, the 'Night Train" won the Olympic title at the 2010 Vancouver Games. A degenerative eye condition nearly caused me to quit my sport in 2008, but corrective surgery restored my vision to 20-20.