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Brazil Teapot Guy gets owned

Teapot Guy v1 (left) and on ice last week

SAO PAULO – Let’s head back to the Neutrogena Curling Arena and one of the last “challenge” games of the former curling facility’s brief life, which took place last week.

And this story will interest social media experts and followers about as much as it will interest curling fans.

We are all familiar with the concept of viral videos, and their offshoots – the 21st Century phenomenon that occurs when a slice of digital content becomes a worldwide smash hit. Witness one of the first such phenomenons, the Star Wars Kid.

Nowadays, it’s all about the money. Corporate brands are constantly trying to break into this world – witness the Emmy recently awarded to the Old Spice Guy – and there are big bucks on the line to he, or she, who discovers then Next Big Thing.

The ultimate rags-to-riches tech viral success story is, of course, Justin Bieber. The Canadian lad was already a YouTube sensation when some guy named Usher called up, and explained to Bieber’s mom something you might call the STFD (Screaming Teenage Female Demographic). The rest, as they say, is history.

Brazil experienced a viral hit during the Vancouver Olympics. A single photograph (top left) buzzed through the Twitterverse and blogosphere, showing a man in his kitchen, delivering a teapot like it was a curling stone. He was armed with some kind of squeegee, and had tossed a few ice cubes on the floor.

Funny? To curlers and curling fans, not in the least; it symbolized the worst kind of ignorant, eye-rolling sterotypes. But to Brazilians, who were starting to watch the Olympic curling competition in rapidly increasing numbers, it was hilarious… and intriguing. And as the nation quickly became obsessed with this strange Olympic winter sport, that image began to summarize the huge knowledge gap between the game and its new South American fans.

This Terra story from February tracked down Fabio Chiorino, aka Teapot Guy, and explains his viral phenomenon.

Team Chiorino

Sure enough, Chiorino showed up in Sao Paulo at the Neutrogena Curling Centre – the site of Brazil’s second curling-themed media success – with teapot in hand, accompanied by his family. He was mobbed by reporters, and eventually escorted onto the ice.

All that was left was a good old-fashioned schooling, and it fell to Brian Chick, one of the two Canadian curling instructors, to teach the lesson.

“I beat him 4-0 in two ends,” said Chick. “That wouldn’t surprise any knowledgeable curling fans, of course, but I don’t think (Chiorino) was too surprised, either.

“It’s been gratifying to see how quickly Brazilians understood how hard this sport really is. Everything they’ve been learning and experiencing, including the degrees of difficulty, has been genuine. Those that try it, they get it.”

Terra was there, again, to catch up with Chiorino The Curler, and to document the match. Click on “FOTOS” to see an additional five images.

“It’s hard to maintain speed and balance,” said Chiorino, who is himself a journalist.

“It’s nice, very different. It’s good to see that go beyond the kitchen. It is very difficult. But with time, I could have a better understanding and have fun.”

He even had his original teapot autographed by the imported Norwegian curling star, Linn Githmark.

“This kettle is already retired. So we bought another one already.”

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Great Brasilian Curling Adventure Part IX

Número um!

by Brian Chick

SAO PAULO – As of today, we’re halfway through the public lifespan of the Neutrogena Curling Arena. Five days down, with five days to go.

So far at least 500 people have come through. I’m not sure of the exact numbers. Many people have come more than once, and some kids came three times in two days. Last weekend there was literally a line out the door when we showed up. I recall Chad saying that weekends are the super-popular mall time.

The media continues to come out in droves has come back three times and Disney TV was here yesterday, along with more  radio and website reporters, and two more TV crews are scheduled for today. Veja Sao Paulo – the highest circulated weekly magazine – listed their pre-launch story titled “Curling at Shopping Eldorado” as their number one retweeted article.

In addition, some of the Brasil-only video reports have begun to show up on YouTube. There is this feature from Super Esporte, and here is the famed Abel Neto and his Globo piece.

Isabella running the show

Our Brazilian crew has also become fairly independent. MacGyver (aka Kleverson) handles the ice, and has it all scraped and pebbled before we arrive. This morning he did some spot repairs where some divots/holes were appearing.

The ice is actually quite good, and certainly acceptable for a learning event in Brazil. I’ve played on much WORSE ice in Canada!

Our teams of instructors can now run their 45-minute classes without us, which affords Hollie and myself some time off to see Sao Paulo, and get some much needed rest… or  to shop… or to do our actual Canadian work. Hollie is busy with applications to law internships, and I’m trying to get my projects done… in between caipirinhas.

They still have the odd question for us, such as about the nuances of the the rules, strategy, or why the rocks at the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver had blinking lights on them. But for the most part, they’re running their own show.

This week’s edition of “Brian and Hollie’s Crazy Brazilian Experience” took us to a Capoeira gym. Fabio of Ginga,brasilis is a high level practitioner of this Brazilian martial art/dance, and wanted to ensure that we experienced it first-hand.

Fabio took us to BerimBrasil Capoeira where we learned the “basics” from Master Wellington. The basics include the basic steps, attacks, dodges, and of course one-handed cartwheels. This was a BEGINNER’S class. The point of a capoeira game is not to actually fight, but to make it look like you are… but all in an elaborate improvised choreography. It is quite a workout, and it was an amazingly fun experience.

Master Wellington and Fabio were both impressed with our first attempts, and I am seriously looking into classes back home in Toronto.  I’m also planning on using some of the moves I learned as part of my group’s warm up sessions next week… at the Trillium Curling Camp!

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Great Brasilian Curling Adventure Part VIII

L to R: Chad, Fabio Coelho of Ginga,brasilis and Mark

by Chad McMullan

We don’t have an equivalent word in English, but I now understand the meaning of saudade.

It was Sunday morning when I first started typing these words at JFK airport as I waited for my connection to Toronto. I am completely and utterly exhausted – both physically and mentally, but at the same time also incredibly excited for what lies ahead.

History was made, and it was no gimmick. Make no mistake, the ultimate goal and reason this project even existed was to execute a successful marketing event for a client (Neutrogena) that thought it would be a cool idea to leverage the sport of curling. Mission accomplished. But what stands out to everyone involved in this adventure is the love Brasilians have showed for curling from day one.

Let me provide you with a quick background on my history with the country, as well as the short history of curling in Brasil. This was not my first time in Brasil – I have actually been there seven times now, all starting with a completely random, short-notice trip in 1999. I instantly fell in love with this country and its people, and I continue to come back.

My brother was one of my travel partners on that now infamous first holiday, and he took things to a whole other level. He is as carioca (Rio native) as a gringo can possibly get without having been born there; he now has a Paulistana wife and a house in Rio. Ironically, he just took a multi-year contract in Colombia – mere months before my trip to Brasil, so no family visit! – but they will return in time.

To make a long story short, when the initial call came from Ginga regarding this project, there was no chance in hell I would let it happen without me.

As for Brasil, prior to February 2010 many Brasilians did not even know there was a Winter Olympics. Vancouver 2010 was the first Winter Games ever broadcast on a major non-cable TV carrier in Brasil. And for reasons that we are still trying to comprehend, curling was the runaway smash hit, gripping the people almost instantly and refusing to let go. Over the past week I heard many a story of how families gathered to watch the curling games, and tried to figure out what exactly was taking place on their TV screens. How students did poorly on exams, because they couldn’t study while curling was on. It seemed everyone had a story to tell along these lines.

A Brasilian internet buzz started during the Games and has only increaased since. Brasilian curling blogs and Twitterers have taken over. Search #curling on Twitter: there may be as many tweets in Portuguese as there are in English these days. We had visitors that came from as far as Rio, Curitiba and other cities just to try this sport. They first fell in love with it months ago, and couldn’t believe they would soon have a chance to try it in their own backyard.

And whether it is curling in Canada, Scotland, Norway or Brasil, this game is always about the friendships made along the way, and this past week was no different. Massive thanks go out to the gang at Ginga,brasilis – one of the best groups of people I have ever worked with. This crew knew nothing about curling from the start but their belief in their ability to do the impossible made it happen.

Eight other agencies were also approached regarding this project, and not one of them had the ability – or the guts – to pull it off. They worked around the clock, sometimes spending multiple sleepless nights in a row, and yet still had time to entertain us and show us a small slice of this city of 20 million. Um abraco grande para: Fabio, Gui, Karol, Elder, Peixe, and even little Ginga! And of course big thanks to the rest of the supporting staff as well: Luiz (our driver), MacGyver aka Kleverson (Brazil’s first ice technician), Desiree and the gang at Ice Star, and everyone else we met along the way.

While Mark Shurek and I are no longer in Brasil, The Adventure is by no means over. Brian and Hollie will remain in Brasil, continuing to teach curling to this eager country, until the end of the promotion on August 22. Keep checking The Curling News Blog as they will have further posts… and I might just sneak in another as well.

Perhaps what I’m feeling is not the true definition of saudade since in this case I know I will be back, and more than likely some of those visits will be with a curling pedra in hand.

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Great Brasilian Curling Adventure Part VII

by Chad McMullan

Mark and I are back in Canada now – Brian and Hollie remain while Linn left for Norway yesterday – and shortly I will have some final thoughts for all our followers around the globe. But in the meantime, I wanted to issue a few thank yous to some people and companies whose help went a long way in making this whole adventure a reality.

A very special thank you to Canada Curling Stone and in particular Kim. Without all of her help in putting together our equipment and getting it on a plane to Brasil, we would likely be teaching the locals how to skate right now. Not sure about the others, but I am the last person you would want skating lessons from – yours truly is an ankle-bender extraordinaire. Kim put in a ton of effort and her expertise in international shipping is the reason we got everything down there and then through a tough customs group with little time to spare.

Huge thanks as well to Terry at 8-Ender and Amanda at Asham Curling Supplies for their help as well in supplying the brooms, and slider/grippers respectively. There might be a few sore Brasilians right now that wish the sliders hadn’t shown up though!

And finally a shout out to Jim Waite, legendary curling coach and mastermind behind the Trillium Curling Camp. Special thanks to him for allowing us to recruit a couple of his best instructors and take them down to Brasil while his camp is running. Note that Brian will be back in Canada and at the camp next week to sign autographs… but likely using his new Brasilian nickname Salinho.

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Great Brasilian Curling Adventure Part VI

by Chad McMullan

SAO PAULO – Day 7 in Brasil came far too fast. With last Friday marking the final night for both Mark and I in Sao Paulo we, of course, had to have a team celebration. And this being Brasil, dinner-plus-celebrations do not even begin until the wee hours.

Saturday kicked off with a private group sponsored by the AADA (Brasilian Atopic Dermatitis Association) which included 18 kids and their families. The artwork at left appears on the AADA website; dig the Norway vs Brasil pants!

Shopping Eldorado is one of the biggest malls in Sao Paulo, and as such it was absolutely jammed full on the weekend. It’s difficult to even get around in the place. Saturday saw long lines of people waiting to try curling, as well as a constant wall of viewers taking in the action from the side boards. The Brasilian instructors – or should we start calling them future Olympians? – are completely in love with curling and spend any free minutes they have practicing – or should we say training?

The media mayhem continued as the Globo piece taped Friday went to air, as did Record – live from the rink. Here is a UOL video showing just how small this non-regulation curling club really is… and here are not one but two more videos from R7… and there’s even some criticism from the Barba e Bigode blog, which seems to have been refuted by the Curling Brasil blog (Comments section).

Basically every major media outlet has given significant space and time to this occasion and there cannot be many Paulistanos that don’t know about it. By the time you read these words it is now Day 4 of being open to the public, but this project has to be considered a massive success, even based on the amount of media coverage alone.

Also by the time you are reading this I will have actually left the country, and returned to Canada… exhausted but exhilarated with what we have accomplished here – in Sao Paulo, in Brasil, and in South America, too.

I’ll have some final, departing thoughts in the next day or so but for now, the show goes on. The Neutrogena Curling Arena is still open to the public for another week, through August 22, and there are still lineups of people waiting for the crew to open for business each and every morning.


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Great Brasilian Curling Adventure Part V

Mark Shurek checks out the newsby Chad McMullan

SAO PAULO – Day Six is now complete and the Neutrogena Curling Arena is open to the public for 10 full days!

Our celebrity superstar curler, Linn Githmark of Norway, appears to have survived yet another hectic media schedule that literally went on and on and on – all day long, for some 11 hours – starting with a live in-studio interview on Band Sports.

It would be easier to list the media outlets that are NOT speaking with her, or us, than to list the media which are.

Curling had a huge presence in all the print biggies yesterday morning and, remember, we were just getting started. Folha delivered a full two-page spread in the middle of the sports section, and their online version also includes a video . O Estado de Sao Paulo gave serious space on the back page of their sports section, as read by Mark Shurek in the photo at left and also displayed in this online version.

Here’s more from Terra Brasil, another from Terra Brasil, and one from Jornal da Tarde. And more from R7 and even the Brasilian version of AdNews. And still more from Rede Bom Dia, which includes shout-outs to: all of the Canadians, “Norse goddess” Linn, and also our agency hosts from Ginga,brasilis.

Now here’s an interesting photo. On the right we have Linn, who is giving instruction to three guys. The fellow wearing the awesome and infamous LoudMouth golf/curling pants is Abel Neto, a famous Globo sports reporter. The fellow in the blue sleeves is a professional bocce player.

It seems that virtually every Brasilian who tries curling comments that it is “like bocce but on ice”. And fully half of those hasten to add: “but mostly old Italian men play that”.

And the fellow on the far left? He’s a local street sweeper. I kid you not. The Brasilians appear to be fascinated with the idea that street sweepers can excel at curling.

But lets turn this over to curling instructor Brian Chick for the last words on how his stable of new Brasilian curling teachers are coming along, plus a comment on his own stamina throughout the gruelling hours. Said Brian:

My instructions were this: you can get some time off when the people you train are good enough to teach curling without you!

Actually, of the four on-ice instructors Hollie Nicol and I taught yesterday, three of them are pretty much there, and the other is close. All the Brasilians involved are out practicing during any spare minutes, and they are all enthusiastic, eager, and asking a lot of questions.

So I should get an afternoon off in the next few days to go see some of Sao Paulo… or maybe I’ll just sleep. Our hosts seem intent on making sure we don’t get much of that! Thursday night was an amazing Brasilian band, complete with Capoeira dancers… but Chad and I were forced to quit sometime around 2:00am. The rest of the gang – all Brasilian – was at a club until 6:00am!

[Click on photos to view in larger size]

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Great Brasilian Curling Adventure Part IV

Ei! Slow Down! Não tão rápido!

The official VIP event launch is over, and now the brand new Neutrogena Curling Arena is now open to the public. From today through August 22, Brazilians can try curling, the Olympic winter sport that caused a frenzy through TV screens in that country. One of the event organizers has been in Brasil since  last weekend and has been reporting exclusively for The Curling News.

by Chad McMullan

SAO PAULO – South America’s first-ever curling organizing committee is exhausted, and totally running on fumes… but we love it.

Thursday was the longest day, culminating in the evening VIP launch which was, in a word, spectacular.

Wednesday, Day Four, featured completing the ice surface and welcoming our two Canadian curling instructors, Hollie Nicol and Brian Chick. The first-ever curling stone was thrown in Brasil, and Brian got the honours. As you can see by the photo above, he caught our photographer completely by surprise, and was nearly out of the camera frame before the photo was taken!

Curling superstar Linn Githmark

It’s worth mentioning, however, that the first person to throw a South American curling stone to the button, the centre of the house and the ultimate display of curling prowess combined with mental fortitude, was our chief ice technician, Mark Shurek. And in true ice tech style, he managed the feat without a slider, a brush, nor a sliding delivery.

We would expect nothing less!

In addition, our celebrity curling star, Norwegian women’s skip (captain) Linn Githmark, arrived from the Land of LoudMouth Curling Pants and tried to get some sleep before her gruelling Thursday with the media.

Media interest in Brasil for The Roaring Game is nothing short of fantastic, a direct result of the incredible television ratings Brasilians produced during the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. The interest was so high – also reflected in tens of thousands of Twitter tweets and the creation of Brasil-based curling blogs – that additional playoff coverage of the men’s and women’s world championships made it on to Brasilian TV screens.

And THAT is why the media and public are coming out in droves to the Neutrogena Curling Arena here at Shopping Eldorado, it clearly has NOTHING to do with the fact that Linn is an attractive blonde woman who was one of the first curling calendar girls back in 2005/06 (left).

How can it be any clearer, really?

On that note, Linn gave us some thoughts on this entire experience, despite the fact that she’s still jet-lagged and we’ve only really just begun.

Linn doing media with her translator

When I got the invitation to come to Brasil my first thought was, how will I be able to get time off work? Linn said with a chuckle.

She continued:

I have actually never been to any of the South American countries before, so I was really looking forward to getting down to Brazil. It’s a good start to visiting a new continent and I’m really happy to be here. My friend married her Brazilian boyfriend last year and has lived here for a while, and she speaks really highly of the country and its people!

What I hope to accomplish is to let Brasilians in on just how much fun you can have with curling in your life. It is a great sport that suits everyone, and you can play it your whole life.

It would be fantastic if more countries from South America gathered around the best game in the world!

Incidentally, Linn is well-travelled: in addition to tremendous curling experience she has achieved around the world, she also studied Mandarin Chinese and East Asian culture/politics for four years, which included living in China for two years – most of that in in Beijing and another six months in Kunming, in the south.


On Thursday, we trained the Brasilian instructors that will now work with Hollie and Brian for the next 10 days, giving the perfect rookie curling experience to thousands of Brasilians. We also spent time fine-tuning the ice surface of the new, unofficial and very temporary Sao Paulo Curling Club (SPCC) in preparation for the 7:00pm launch.

As predicted, it was a media bombardment for Linn. She remained standing, smiling, crouching, sliding and throwing stones through non-stop interviews for television, radio, print and online outlets.Every big player in Brasil was present or will be attending on Friday.

The launch was hosted by the Associação de Apoio à Dermatite Atópica, the Brazilian Atopic Dermatitis Association, who are receiving fundraising proceeds from this event.

Over 100 people rammed into the Arena – mostly doctors and specialists in the industry, along with various client types and special guests – and there were the usual hors d’ouvres, champagne, speeches, and so on.

Hollie, Brian and Brasil's new curling instructors

Then, finally, came the first official curling match (of sorts) contested on South American soil, an exhibition game of Guys versus Girls: myself, Brian and Mark versus Linn, Hollie and Fernanda, the Brasilian instructor who just learned to curl a few hours prior!

The guys won 2-0 on the pressure-packed last stone of the second and final end of play.

After game we opened the ice to contest winners, doctors and other guests to try the sport. The evening festivities were supposed to end at 10:00pm, but we couldn’t shut it down until about 11:30pm because people would not leave the ice. All night there was a lineup to get onto the ice surface – we basically had to kick people off. Most of those people who made it onto the ice during the promotion were vowing returning again, sometime between today and August 22, to play again!

We managed to shoot a brief video to accompany these words and pictures: click here to view.

More coming soon!

[Click on photos to view in larger size]

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Great Brasilian Curling Adventure Part III

The challenge

by Chad McMullan

SAO PAULO – More food. I feel like I am in an Anthony Bourdain No Reservations episode. Ginga’s Gui took us to a “hole in the wall” Japanese restaurant where we once again experienced “rodizio” although this time, raw fish replaced red meat.

You might wonder about sushi in Brasil, but Sao Paulo actually has the largest Japanese diaspora in the world – the population of Japanese people outside of Japan – so they know what they are doing, and it showed.

Unfortunately, we also came crashing back down to earth weather-wise.

After a gorgeous opening day the thermometer plummeted to about 16 degrees, but hey, it is winter here. If that happened in Canada we’d have our flip flops and sunscreen on, so no complaints. Time to focus on the task at hand – building a curling rink, the first in South America (however temporary).

Flooding. And lots of it

We knew coming in that curling, and everything to do with it, would have to be done a bit differently than we’re used to in the northern hemisphere, but watching local rink staff squeegee water off the rink while wearing ice skates was NOT part of either of our expectations.

Yes, you read that correctly. Ice skates. We may have photo and video evidence of this, but it seems The Curling News editor wants to do “something special” with this evidence, so you will simply have to visualize those images for now.

Turns out it’s actually a pretty quick and effective method – pay attention, all you curling ice technicians.

As such, day two was all about melting some of the ice away so we could start over, and attempt to level the not-so-level surface.

Not our typical meal choices

Things went fairly well and we even ended up getting the rings into the ice at the end of the night. Enormous thanks go out to the good people at Jet Ice for hooking us up with some rings that could be easily transported, personally, without damaging them.

Turns out Brasilian customs doesn’t like the importing of liquids/chemicals like ice paint on short notice… so Jet Ice came to the rescue by basically making us in-ice logos, in the form of rings. Very cool.

We should also point out that due to the size of the rink these are nine-foot rings, not the usual 12. Hey, I already mentioned that things would be done differently in Brasil!

Up early and back to the rink on day three, to lay down as many floods as possible to level the surface. The hotel breakfast doesn’t exactly live up to Gui’s selections but, naturally, this was rectified a bit later with lunch later while waiting for flood number two to freeze.

As the Ginga,brasilis crew works away at getting the rest of the environment ready for the Neutrogena promotion, the venue is actually beginning to look like a curling rink… check out The Curling News Twitter feed for a great photo of how well things are coming along.

Cerveja. And lots of it

After 13 hours of flooding we finally managed to get out of the mall, and out for a long-awaited cold one and, hopefully, a quick nap before Brian and Hollie arrived from Rio.

Turns out the place we went to for a beer boasted about 500 different brands from around the world, as well as Brasil vs USA futebol on a big screen. Uh oh.

As you can probably guess, the much-needed nap did not happen and once the game was over we met up with the curling instructors to hear their stories from Rio and to go over the plans for the next few days.

Next up: the first stones were thrown – who would get the honours? – and the star of the promotion, Linn Githmark, arrives from Norway… and the anticipated media circus will be underway. Ate mais amigos.

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Great Brasilian Curling Adventure Part II

Brian shows his colours

Brian Chick and Hollie Nicol are the Canadian curling instructors for next week’s Neutrogena curling promotion in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

by Brian Chick

WARNING: There is not much curling in this blog post!

Yesterday afternoon fellow instructor Hollie was splashing around in the ocean, while I was lying on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro. I thought to myself, “How did curling bring me here?”

Truth be told, curling brought us to Brazil; it was really our own decision to spend a few days in Rio before heading to our final destination, Sao Paulo. Either way… the reason we are in Brazil is indeed, the Olympic winter sport of curling, otherwise known as The Roaring Game.

We left Toronto on Saturday afternoon, on our way to Atlanta. After a four-hour layover there, we were on a 767 bound for Rio (side note: NEVER watch The Bounty Hunter as Gerard Butler will be RUINED for you). We landed, passed through customs and immigration, and were in a taxi to our hotel in no time.

By the time we reached downtown, it was just after 9am on Sunday, and we were confused about what was supposed to happen next. Thank goodness we could check in early.

Hollie goes Coconuts in Rio!

We spent much of the first day wandering the beaches of Rio; the two most famous being Copacabana in the east, and Ipanema in the west. We watched games of volleyball, soccer, and paddleball as I enjoyed the first of a few Brahmas… and Hollie decided to try drinking from a coconut.

We then spent our evening at Estadio San Januario to see the #11 and #14 teams in Brazil play in a game that meant relatively nothing in the grand scheme of the Brazilian Football Championships. The crowd of 16,000+, however, was passionate, loud, and vulgar. The home team, Vasco da Gama, beat Vitoria 1-0.

On Monday we made our way up to the statue of Christ the Redeemer, high above Rio. Although the statue is only 30 metres tall, it can be seen from most corners of the city, as it is perched on Corcovado, a mountain 750 metres high.

The most famous landmark in Brazil is, unsurprisingly, almost certainly outdone by the 360 degree view of city – everything from favelas (slums) to mountains, gorgeous beaches and ocean are amazing to view while standing on the top of the peak… which is sure to become one of the most filmed and photographed landmarks as the 2016 Olympic Games draw closer.


Before heading off to Sao Paulo today, we managed to squeeze in one more amazing adventure.

The hang-gliding we had scheduled for Monday was cancelled due to excessive winds and clouds, but this morning’s attempt was… successful!

Thrilling? Oh yes… just imagine taking off from a mountain, 1,500 up, and landing on a beach. Priceless.

On to Sao Paulo, where we will meet up with Chad, Mark and the gang at Ginga,brasilis and check out the ice!

Photos by Brian Chick and Hollie Nicol: click on any image to increase viewing size.

And be sure to check The Curling News Blog, and our Twitter feed, often as we bring readers exclusive, behind-the-scenes updates on South America’s first-ever live curling experience!

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Great Brasilian Curling Adventure Part I

Chad McMullan is the president of Rock Solid Productions of Toronto, and he will be coordinating exclusive blog coverage of the first-ever curling promotion in South America, taking place August 13-22 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Follow along with The Curling News as curling history is made!
by Chad McMullan
Day One of the Great Brasilian Curling Adventure™ kicked off in style. After approximately 15+ hours of gruelling travel, myself and ice technician extraordinaire Mark Shurek (of Stonewall, Manitoba) met up at customs at Guarulhos airport in Sao Paulo where we were met by Karol, one of our hosts from Ginga,brasilis, the local marketing agency responsible for executing South America’s first-ever curling promotion.
Following a quick pit stop at the hotel to check in, we also connected with Gui from Ginga and were on our way to the Pacaembu stadium to see an epic Brasilian futebol (soccer) match. While it would have been sacrilege for Karol or Gui to join us at the home of Corinthians and their Gavioes faithful – they support Palmeiras and Sao Paulo FC – Mark and I managed to score a couple of tickets and took in the action.
Corinthians, the second-most supported team in all of Brasil, were hosting Rio de Janeiro’s Flamengo, the MOST supported team in Brasil.
One of the big, big banners is unfurled
We got to see the legendary Roberto Carlos in action as Corinthians pleased the home fanatics with a 1-0 win. In my opinion there is no stadium in Canada that can boast half the atmosphere we were a part of, and it was educating as well… for Mark and I now know every Portuguese curse word imaginable, courtesy of many of the referee’s decisions in the eyes of the locals.
Gui and Karol picked us up after the match but how they found us in the sea of black and white jerseys is still beyond me. I suppose the only non-black or white shirts gave us away. And then, the barbecue. If futebol is Brasil’s number one passion, barbecue has to be a close second. From the stadium we went directly to a rodizio-style restaurant named Vento Haragano for an all-you-can-eat, heart-stopping, red-meat marathon. Nothing washes down a side of beef better than a cachaca-fueled caipirinha – Brasil’s national drink.
Eventually we had to say “Nao obrigado” to our incredibly attentive waiters (aka meat deliverers) and once they had widened the doorways for us, we were off to Shopping Eldorado to get our first glimpse of the ice that would eventually become the Neutrogena Curling Arena.
The documentary cameras were rolling as soon as we stepped into the ice area and I can’t wait to see the footage… apparently the look on our faces was priceless. We watched a local Brasilian in a Florida Panthers jersey tear up the 69 foot-long rink for a few minutes – the Toronto Maple Leafs could likely use him – and after some more introductions got up close and personal with the rink.
McMullan (left) and Shurek at the stadium
Let’s start with the venue basics: this is a skating rink that rents skates and ice time to curious mall patrons (R$30 for one hour). It is one of (I believe) some four shopping malls in all of Brasil that have a similar setup – the only other ice in Brasil can be found in caiprinhas. A brisk 26 degree winter day, combined with a full day of weekend skating left a few puddles on the ice, but we were more concerned with the Sugarloaf-size moguls in the middle. Actually it was not that bad, but I have to set it up so that we can talk about the miracles that Mr. Shurek works with ice in a future blog entry.
By the end we met up with two of the owners of Ginga Brasilis (Fabio and Elder) and I cannot stress enough that these guys have a fantastic team assembled here in Sao Paulo. The whole team is busting their butts around the clock, and this is going to be a first-class event that will make both curling and Brasilian history.
Next up: the rink transformation begins, and we’ll also get an update from imported curling instructors Brian and Hollie who are currently enjoying a couple of days in Rio de Janeiro before joining us in Sampa on Wednesday night.
Tchau tchau!