Chad McMullanis 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.
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.
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.