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.
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.”