Bitter Swede symphony for Norway in curling's version of the Old Firm derby


TV VIEW:When you start getting nostalgic for sport on ice, Eurosport is the only place to go

How quickly we forget. “What sports have had two or more winners of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award?” asked Sue Barker, and there followed a rather intense session of head-scratching, Phil Tufnell scratching more than most. Athletics topped the list with 17 awards, but the task on A Question of Sport was to name the other 10. They could only manage nine.

Cricket was added to the list that already included football, motor racing, cycling, equestrian, swimming, golf, tennis and boxing. But the 10th eluded them. Entirely.

Look awaynow if you want to figure – hint – the answer out for yourself. (Ice skating). “Aaaaaaaaaaaah,” said the contestants, all of them forgetting the halcyon days of the sport when, between 1976 and 1984, John Curry, Robin Cousins and the dream team of Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean scooped the BBC gong. And which one of us didn’t try re-enacting their Ravel’s Bolero routine in our living rooms with a sweeping brush? But, forgotten now.

But the ice-skating thing, that would take you back, kind of like the Sticklebrick or Fuzzy Felt of sport. Andwhen you start getting nostalgic for sport on ice, Eurosport is the only place to go.And what were they showing, as luck would have it, only the European Curling Championships? A sport we rarely get to feast our eyes on, outside of the Winter Olympics.

The championships were hosted by Sweden, and while the home nation attracted a decent crowd for their contests, the ice-sweeping during the clash of Norway and Switzerland was startlingly audible thanks to the arena being almost empty.

Still, curling is big in chilly countries, as evidenced by the event being sponsored by a Swiss cheese company, and who knew it was lucrative enough for there to be fulltime, professional curlers? The Norwegian skip, Thomas Ulsrud, for one, sort of the Cristiano Ronaldo of his sport. “2007 was the year he had a little bit of a psychological rethink – more about that in just a second,” said the commentator, leaving us hanging.

“Yes, he and the team had a psychological pow-wow and got themselves refocused in 2007, and they’ve had a tremendous record since then,” he said, as the camera picked out Thomas, who promptly stuck his tongue out. Cheeky divil.

Heeven has his own website –TeamUlsrud – the last news item telling us that “the patriotic Norwegians have taken the long way to the final . . . the dream scenario of another final between Norway and Sweden has now come to life. It’s all going down in the Lofberg Lila Arena 15:00 local time, Saturday”.

Sadly, Norway went down, Sweden winning 8-5 – and losing to Sweden (the Glasgow derby of curling) is, you’d imagine, a blow from which Norway will take a considerable time to recover.

All you can hope is Norway doesn’t turn on Thomas like we’ve done , on our football team. Irish sporting celebrities are, allegedly, amongthose who have had their penalty points allegedly quashed by gardaí, one, allegedly, a familiar rugby name.

Vincent Browne suggested such a legend deserved a break for his fab sporting displays, which prompted barrister Anthony McDermott to suggest: “Everyone on the Irish soccer team would have to get double penalty points if you based it on good sporting performances.”

Ah now. In the face of such derision, Trap and the lads will need a psychological pow-wow.

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