Dispatches from Sochi

Foul called in curling

The British women’s curling team apologized for Vicki Adams (center) saying a “wee sweary word.”
The British women’s curling team apologized for Vicki Adams (center) saying a “wee sweary word.”

Miking up curlers during games in the Winter Olympics can serve as a very useful tool, educating spectators and TV viewers about shot selection and strategy.

It also has its drawbacks.

Britain’s women’s team had to make an apology on Twitter on Thursday after one of its players, Vicki Adams, said a curse word during its televised game against China.


‘‘Thanks for the support as always guys and sorry for Vicki’s ‘wee sweary word’ that went out on the BBC!!’’ the tweet from the team’s account read. ‘‘Can get pretty tense out there :-)’’

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The game went down to the final stone, from which British skip Eve Muirhead scored a point for an 8-7 win.

With Team Muirhead choosing not to use social media during the Sochi Games, the apology almost certainly came from the team’s representatives, Red Sky Management.


Better than a Zamboni?

The best choreography on display at the Shayba Arena isn’t coming from the cheerleaders who dance in the aisles. It’s the crew that skates out during breaks in the hockey games to shovel the snow off the ice.

A hockey rink gets pretty carved up during a 20-minute period. The quick starts and stops the players make leave grooves in the ice and spray shavings around so that by the end of the period the slick surface is more like an unshoveled sidewalk than a mirror. It slows down the puck, it slows down the players, and it makes for a sloppier game.


A pair of ice-resurfacing machines emerge between periods — it’s not clear if they’re the Zamboni brand familiar to American hockey fans. But to keep things sliding smoothly during the game, a crew in blue warm-ups skate onto the ice. They start at either side of the net and shovel the scrapings toward each other, leaving a thin line of snow. A third man scoops it up and deposits it in a bin.

They do windows, too: Other members of the crew clean the glass in front of the photographers.


Perfect fit

Whether their wacky pants are on or off, Norway’s men’s curling team can’t stop causing a stir.

The hippest team at the Sochi Olympics was pictured in one of their country’s national newspapers posing — in the middle of the day and in the middle of the Olympic Park — with no pants on.

All the four curlers had on below the waist was a pair of boxer shorts, socks and trainers.


They were asked to pull the stunt to highlight a directive, laid down by the Norwegian Olympic Committee, which prevents the team from wearing its competition clothing outside the curling arena. When they aren’t curling, they have to wear attire sponsored by the Norway team’s official clothing supplier, Phenix.

One of the curlers, Thomas Ulsrud, says it was not a protest, just ‘‘a bit of fun.’’

‘‘A Norwegian newspaper wanted to take a picture of the four of us guys [in their pants] away from the curling,’’ he says. ‘‘We said we have some rules in the Olympics, so we aren’t allowed to do that. So they asked could they have a picture without pants.

‘‘I said ‘Sure, I have great legs.'’’

Ulsrud and teammates Christoffer Svae, Torger Nergaard and Haavard Vad Petersson have raised the profile of curling immensely — and achieved celebrity status in the process — ever since the Vancouver Games in 2010, when they decided to ditch their traditional black pants and wear goofy-looking diamond-printed golf pants in their nation’s colors.

In Sochi, they have added to their curling wardrobe by donning flat caps, soccer socks and knickerbockers.


A silver lining

There wasn’t enough gold to go around in the women’s downhill event.

When Slovenia’s Tina Maze and Switzerland’s Dominique Gisin tied for first place on Wednesday with identical times of 1 minute, 41.57 seconds, it was the first tie for first in Olympic Alpine skiing history. That meant two golds for the event, one bronze for Switzerland’s Lara Gut and no silver to be handed out.

Medal maker Adamas was prepared, having made some extra medals just in case. But there was one issue: one of the golds was not personalized to the women’s downhill event.

The company says that the process for personalizing the medal takes at least 15 hours. It starts with removal of the ribbon. Then the medal is placed in a freezer of -40 degrees for several hours. The medal makers remove polycarbonate crystals and a protective coating from the medal before engraving the event on the side of the medal. When the games are finished, any extra medals, including the silver for the women’s downhill, will be given to Olympic museums around the world.

After engraving, the personalized medal is washed in an ultrasonic bath, then covered with a new layer of gold and a protective lacquer.

The IOC says Gisin’s medal would be ready for her by Thursday evening.


No backlash

A member of the US Olympic delegation sent to Sochi by President Obama said Thursday she witnessed no backlash over the inclusion of homosexuals in the group as an apparent protest over anti-gay laws in Russia.

‘‘Everyone knew who we were, and I'm quite certain we didn’t experience a single problem,’’ two-time Olympic medalist Caitlin Cahow said in a telephone interview from Boston. ‘‘If anything, they were unbelievably welcoming.’’

A member of the US women’s hockey team that won the bronze in Turin and silver in Vancouver, Cahow, who is gay, was part of a delegation that originally included former tennis star Billie Jean King and figure skater Brian Boitano, who also are gay.

King was forced to withdraw because her mother was ill; she died the day of the Opening Ceremony. Cahow replaced King at the ceremony, where the group sat not far from Russian President Valdimir Putin.


Puppy love

Who let the dogs out? Pretty much everyone in Sochi, it seems.

Who picked the dogs up? Well, that would be American freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy.

The freshly crowned silver-medal slopestyler from Telluride, Colo., picked up four puppies and their mother on the streets of Rosa Khutor and he’s making arrangements to have them sent home to the United States.

‘‘I've been around animals all my life,’’ Kenworthy said of the hundreds of dogs roaming the streets in Sochi and the mountains above the Olympic city. ‘‘It’s hard to watch.’’

Kenworthy tweeted a picture of himself cuddling four of the dogs. ‘‘Puppy love is real to puppies,’’ he wrote.

He says he’s arranged for kennels to carry the dogs in, and for vaccinations. Family members back home are already lining up to adopt.

‘‘I'll keep one for myself,’’ he said.

Any chance he'll name it Silver?