Norway’s mixed curling team are living, breathing legacies of the Youth Olympic Games.
Two of their players, Lukas Hoestmaelingen (NOR) and Grunde Buraas (NOR), who won the gold medal match on Thursday, took up the sport because they were inspired by the Lillehammer 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games.
“Both Lukas and I come from Lillehammer, and the curling rink was built just for the Youth Olympics so if it wasn’t for the event we wouldn’t even be playing,” Buraas said.
“Now, it is where we train all the time. In 2016, we saw that it was possible to reach that level. Once we started playing, we realised that Lausanne 2020 would be a nice goal.”
“We watched almost every game at Lillehammer 2016. I stayed at the rink all day instead of going to school,” Hoestmaelingen said.
“We decided to try out the sport. If you told me that four years later I would be here with a gold medal, I wouldn’t have believed you. It’s amazing to have a medal around my neck. It is heavier than I thought. My neck is tired.”
The pair accompanied Nora Oestgaard (NOR) and Ingeborg Forbregd (NOR) to defeat Japan 5-4 in the final – a tense game which required an extra end to decide it.
“It was amazing,” Ingeborg said. “I was very nervous playing an extra end so it was incredible to win it like that.”
Hoestmaelingen said: “I was pretty shocked because the last stone they put down was really good. I thought, ‘Oh damn’. But we still had control and so we felt pretty secure.
“The mixed team was a really nice experience. We usually play boys against boys, and girls against girls, so this was very interesting. We’ve made lots of friends and the experience has been great.”
Hoestmaelingen denied that the team will now invest in the kind of garish legwear that made Norway’s curlers international sensations at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games. “I think we will have to do our own thing,” he said. “We are not going to steal the trousers away from that team.”
Russia beat New Zealand to the bronze, and the Champery Curling Arena was full of children enjoying both matches, just as Hoestmaelingen and Buraas had done four years ago.
“I really hope people get inspired by Lausanne 2020, the way we were,” Hoestmaelingen said. “It’d be nice if a kid watching today gets to the next YOG.”
Source: OIS nm/pp/sg