Kiwi Curling

Because of time issues between Italy and the East Coast, I'm sometimes forward-posting these entries, so that by the time one appears I've long since conducted much more intensive research into the same topic. Like, all those times I've mentioned ketchup-flavored Freeky Fries, I by rights should have also been mentioning a ketchup-flavored snack called Wacko's Gloups, that is equally excellent.

Similarly, by the time the item on this morning's earthshaking Curling and Cheese nexus was posted, I had already talked to several members of the New Zealand curling team. But because I now need to run to find a sports pub in which to watch Juventus and Inter, I will have to save some of the juicy details.

Key highlights:

My closest contact on the team, Hans Frauenlob, is potentially the only Olympic athlete here who has earned not one but two World Series rings. Hans used to run the IT office for the Toronto Blue Jays in the early-to-mid 1990s. They had such a classy management team that "they created World Series rings for every person in the organization, from the assistant mail room guys all the way through to Joe Carter," he told me. Hans, who is the "third" on the Kiwis Curling team, did not bring the rings to Turin.

"Sports jewelry is pretty large," he pointed out. "I wear them around once in a while just for a conversation."

Sean Becker, New Zealand's flag bearer and curling skip, is also the son of the team's coach, Peter Becker. Both Beckers are sheep and deer farmers in the South Island. Sean's sister is the skip of the women's national team. His younger brother is the skip of the under-21 national team. They are officially the first family of New Zealand curling.

Three of the five team members were born in Canada.

Each day here, the team comes up with a "word of the day" that all team members are required to use in every interview. Today's word was "vision." During an explanation of how teammate Lorne Depape happened to move from Canada to New Zealand, Hans told me that "Loren's family had the vision to move to Manitoba." Pretty slick, eh? I didn't realize this was the word of the day until much later.

Frankly, there's no reason this shouldn't be a movie and there's no reason I shouldn't write the screenplay. Clearly we need to work in some sort of love interest, and a bit of tension, but I'll work on that. Early thoughts: one of the players with dual Canadian-Kiwi citizenship perhaps has a sister who plays for the Canadian women's team (in the screenplay), and she is taken with one of the New Zealand natives on the Kiwi team. Get some sibling tension and some international tension with that one, plus the love interest.

By the way, I had a great idea for a screenplay once. I was writing this series of stories for The Post about a group of women from Southern Maryland and Prince George's County who had played on amateur soccer teams together since they were in high school. Many of them didn't have high school girls' soccer teams when they were growing up. So they played as amateurs, and they stuck with the same coach for decades and decades. He was a butcher, naturally. And then by the end, when they entered the over-40 division (if I'm remembering right), they finally won a national championship in their age group. They all had interesting careers and families, and they trained like crazy, and they had the gruff but lovable coach/butcher as their leader. It was perfect.

Oh, and the title: "Soccer Moms."

I thought this had major distribution written all over it. My co-workers were convinced it was a "Lifetime" movie at best. But it pales next to this Kiwi Curling story, which is about to explode as the story of these Games.

Now I'm really leaving for this football deal, and I may or may not reappear before tomorrow's curling starts. Either way, if you want a Panasonic Olympic pin with the scary snowflake mascots, e-mail me with the final score of tonight's Juventus-Inter match. Put Juventus in the subject line. I'll let you decide who was the Man of the Match.

By Dan Steinberg |  February 12, 2006; 1:32 PM ET
Previous: The best morning of my life | Next: The Kiwis' Olympic Debut

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Love your story about the First Curling familly of New Zealand. Especially the part that they are originally from Canada. Since my mother's family are Canadians I have been to a few curling events. I never know that anyone other than Canadians curled - oh well - learn more everyday.

Posted by: | February 12, 2006 02:55 PM

Hey Dan,

You ought to check out Erin Hamlin, a luger from Remsen, NY. (near Utica). Her aunt went to SUNY Fredonia and as a student of Dan (Berggren) she has been keeping him up to date on her whole season for a couple of years. The whole little town (village?) has been going nuts over its connection to this year's Olympics. Fleeting fame, etc. The blog is such a relief from the bombastic commentators on NBC! Thanks.

Posted by: Nancy Berggren | February 12, 2006 02:58 PM

What you need is Puppy Curling:
http://www.gamesarcade.net/curling/default.asp

Posted by: Kiwi Schmiwi | February 12, 2006 05:55 PM

Dan, I love your blog, but I have to inform you that you were scooped on the world series rings story. The NBC commentators (Brian Williams and Bob Costas) talked about that during the Opening Ceremonies. Which by the way, I thought NBC did a decent job of showing. They didn't talk too much about the symbolism of everything.

Posted by: Natalie | February 12, 2006 07:50 PM

That word of the day stuff is genius. They got that from the New Zealand cricket team. It was pioneered by NZ cricketer Chris Harris a few years ago.

There was a wonderful moment - this is how the story became public - when NZ cricket captain Stephen Fleming (correctly) used the word of the day 'denouement' in an interview. the incredulous interviewer said "Sorry, denouement?" and Stephen Fleming replied "Yeah, denouement. It means 'end' Pete."

I don't know whether he got bonus points for using it twice.

Am loving your Kiwi curling coverage. They're getting more coverage from you than in the entire NZ media combined, which is shameful, really.

Cheers,
BerlinBear (a Kiwi in Germany)

Posted by: BerlinBear | February 17, 2006 05:19 PM

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