The Norwegian curling team is back at this year’s Winter Games, and so are the pants — those gloriously loud pants.
The men’s team made a splash at the last two Winter Olympics not only for their suave sweeping style, but for the terrifically tacky trousers that quickly became the team’s trademark.
The pants came about by lucky accident when team member Christoffer Svae was sent scrabbling online for a quick kit replacement (the curlers' way of saying "uniform") after a supplier shipped the wrong gear just weeks before pre-Olympic training. When he came across the site for Loudmouth sporting pants, he struck gold. He ordered matching golf pants in red, white and blue argyle (pictured below) – a pattern predominantly sported by fans of the University of Mississippi Rebels – and the rest is curling history.
"It was enough to cause a stir in the curling world," Tony D’Orazio told The New York Times. "For them to do what they did in 2010, it was revolutionary to curling. It took the traditions of the sport and re-energized it for a new generation."
And indeed, D’Orazio, a curler in Rochester, New York, started a Facebook page that has more than half a million fans. And note, the page is not for the team itself, but for the pants.
With such sartorial success in Vancouver, Loudmouth once again took care of the Norwegians' pants for Sochi. That year’s designs were a tribute to Norway, but they also had to look good on the screen, said Scott Woodworth, the founder of Loudmouth.
The result? A revolving roster of pants so loud you can hear them from here; dizzying paisley, mock Mondrian, whacky patchwork, flashy chevrons, zippy zigzags, and so on, all in bold red, white and blue.
And the great trend continues at this year's with the aptly named "Icicles" making their debut at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang.
Sure they're snazzy, but are they legal?
But while the pants have legions of fans, the question of their legality was raised back in 2014 — and not in a "your pants are so ugly they should be outlawed" kind of way. News.am reported rumors that the International Olympics Committee (IOC) wasn’t happy about them, and other media mumblers suggested that "because the team wears a different pair every time they play, the pants might be considered 'unofficial'" and could be against proper uniform code.
Do the pants give the team an unfair advantage? And do they adhere to international curling and IOC uniform guidelines?
According to the pants’ Facebook page, the answer can be found in the World Curling Federation Rules of Curling C3(a), which stipulates that:
All team members wear identical uniforms and appropriate footwear when accessing the field of play for games or practice sessions. The team wears light-colored shirts and playing jackets/sweaters when assigned stones with light-colored handles, and wears dark-colored shirts and playing jackets/sweaters when assigned stones with dark-colored handles. The color of these garments shall be registered with the WCF prior to the start of each competition. The team coaches/officials must wear a team or national uniform whenever accessing the field of play. Red is considered to be a dark color. The World Curling Federation Rules of Curling also says that components should have: "Same logos/crests/color, can be different brands.”
The team’s uniforms are always identical and pre-registered with the WCF and the IOC; and pants have the same logos, crest and color.
Even now — several Olympics later — there has been no word of any official protest being filed against the Norwegian team, and the IOC has yet to respond to requests for a ruling on the pants’ legality.
But if the team’s pants ever do end up being disqualified, we predict a public uproar. (The pants, in fact, may furnish an unfair advantage – the fear of humiliation.)
"These pants would be great to win in," said team member Vad Petersson. "But they’d be terrible to lose in. We decided that when we wear them, we have to really try and win and go the whole way."
Are you a fan of all things Nordic? If so, join us at Nordic by Nature, a Facebook group dedicated to exploring the best of Nordic culture, nature and more.
Editor's note: This story was originally published in February 2014 and has been updated with more recent information.