Norweigian curling team loves Canadian ice at Navy Classic
BY JOE PAVIA
Sander Roelvaag (centre) guided a Norwegian team to a gold medal at the world university curling championships. (World Curling Federation)
The just finished Navy Fall Classic Cashspiel boasted an international flavour with the inclusion of Team Mjoen from Oslo, Norway. The team third is Sander Roelvaag, who at 26 years of age has a myriad of curling experience. The young team is in the country for only two weeks.
“We are here for two main reasons, one is to play competitive curling and second to get inspired by Canada. It’s the mecca of curling,” Roelvaag said.
The affable third is an icemaker at two clubs in the Norwegian capital. (His boss is two-time world champion Dordi Nordby).
“Back home we just played a spiel and the ice was terrible — it was just no fun at all,” Roelvaag said.
“We just really have to come here where people put a lot more pride in ice conditions and curling and the aura of all the curling clubs and the plagues and the famous names up on the walls. It’s great.”
Besides the Navy event, they are playing in the Stu Sells Toronto Tankard that begins Thursday.
Between them, team members have won gold at the University games, gold in mixed doubles and bronze a couple of times at junior worlds.
Other than Roelvaag his teammates are all students so they could only afford a two-week stint both financially and for time.
“We were really strict with our money last season,” he said. “We ended up winning some competitions and we had some money left over. I told the guys we probably have enough money to make a trip to Canada. They weren’t very hard to convince. Two of the guys haven’t been here before. It was important as a team and individually to get re-inspired. “
Roelvaag makes his living from curling but from many sources. Besides being a two-club full time icemaker, he teaches many corporate rental groups. He is also a curling broadcaster for the World Curling Federation and sometimes for Norwegian television. He does the game coverage on the WCF YouTube channel and has been picked up by TSN occasionally. It helps that he speaks Norwegian, English, Swedish, Danish and some German.
Fellow countryman Pal Trulsen’s gold medal at the Salt Lake City Olympics made him take notice of the sport. His introduction to curling came late in life when he was 15 and he saw Mark Nichols play at the Torino Games. He was his first curling idol. Their first match at Stu Sells is against Nichols.
As to curling’s growth in his country, Roelvaag is worried that there aren’t enough youngsters coming up.
“But you’ll be hearing a lot in a few years,” he said. The son of Eigil Ramsfjell is making a name for himself, as are the sons of Trulsen’s teammates.
The Norweigians went 2-2 at Navy. Kingston’s Greg Balsdon defeated Ottawa’s Chad Vandermade for the championship.
The Rideau junior team of Hailey Armstrong, Grace Holyoke, Lindsay Dubue and Marcia Richardson took the top spot in the Ice Breaker junior spiel in Ottawa on Sunday. The squad is clicking, having won two events and getting a bye into the adult Stu Sells Tankard this weekend. They will be facing some prominent and strong women’s squads like Sherry Middaugh and Tracy Fleury.
Rachel Homan and John Morris once again teamed up in the Canad Inns Mixed Doubles championship on the weekend. They came from the C-side of the draw and defeated a team from China for the championship.
Thanksgiving weekend’s Capital Curling Classic begins Friday … The Ottawa Curling Club defeated the Cornwall Curling Centre to capture the Quebec Challenge Cup.
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