Norway’s popular curling team won gold at the World Championship finals for the first time in 26 years in Beijing on Sunday. The men’s team members, as well known for their snappy dressing as their skills on the ice, made up for their disappointing showing at the Winter Olympics in Sochi earlier this month.
“We will toast with all!” declared team skip Thomas Ulsrud after the 8-3 victory over Sweden. The win was extra sweet after the team’s bid for Olympic glory in February ended in a disappointing fifth place, reported newspaper Aftenposten. “This year we have put in extra effort,” Ulsrud continued. “The Olympics were the main target, and many would probably call fifth place unsuccessful, but we we ourselves felt we had much more in us. Now we’re actually world champions, and it feels very good.”
“It was not some bad team we played, there was a reason the Swedes also made the final! But there was never any doubt that we would win,” said Ulsrud. “When Norway had a lead of 5-0, there can’t be any more to say.” Norway last won a curling World Championship in 1988.
After they were knocked out of the medal race at Sochi, the Norwegian players said they were considering their future in the sport. Despite raising the profile of curling internationally through their dapper dressing and silver medal at the Vancouver Olympics, most of the Norwegian team members hold down day jobs and view themselves as amateurs. They said they were struggling to compete against the increasing sponsorship and professionalism of other countries’ teams.
The players wouldn’t say if they were still questioning their future as sportsmen after Sunday’s win. “We promised before the World Championship to concentrate fully on the competition and not think about the future,” said Ulsrud. “Now we’ve won and before we do anything else, we’ll just celebrate. But after that we have a long flight home before us, with good time to let it sink in. Then we will all take some rounds on the home track and see what we get. Nothing has been decided yet.”