Now this is cool.
Torger Nergard, the “quiet one” on that famed team of Crazy Pantsmen, is going back to the Olympics.
He’s the last of his kind still competing—former skip Ulsrud and lead Christoffer Svae are retired while Havard vad Petersson is coaching Switzerland’s Peter de Cruz—and he throws third for Steffen Walstad. That team just grabbed the first direct men’s berth into Beijing 2022 available from the Olympic Qualification Event going on in Leeuwarden, Netherlands after surging into the playoffs with a 6-0 record. Today’s win over Finland confirmed their spot.
Nergard will now compete in his sixth consecutive Olympic Winter Games. He won gold at Salt Lake City 2022 as the alternate for Pal Trulsen, appeared again in that role for curling’s favorite Pal at Torino 2006, and then started a three-Games run wearing crazy pants with Ulsrud’s gang at Vancouver 2010, which resulted in Olympic silver.
Team Walstad was forced to qualify for Beijing after a wild ride at last April’s world championship in the Calgary bubble. They started at 5-0—including a 9-8 win over eventual champ Nklas Edin of Sweden—before losing to Germany, but followed that with victories over Japan and Switzerland for a 7-1 record. The Norwegians then collapsed, and lost their remaining five matches to finish seventh at 7-6 and face the qualification route.
“I’m feeling good … I’m feeling really great,” said Walstad. “It’s an awesome feeling, winning with one game left. Qualifying—that’s what we’ve been working for all year. I’ve been to the Olympics as a coach, but now it’s going to be great to be there as a player.”
Over the years, Nergard gave the spotlight to the more gregarious members of Team Ulsrud—but he did hog it for himself, once, in 2016. Right after a Continental Cup was hosted in Las Vegas, Nergard got married and the result was a flashy star-studded affair.
Curling fans will be sad to see a Norwegian men’s team back in the four-player Games without wildly colored gear. One suggestion for Norway’s Olympic curling uniform provider … put each athlete’s full name on the back of each jersey. Because it’s oddly cool.
The men’s and women’s OQE continues, with more nations battling to confirm the final few berths into Beijing 2022 over the next 48 hours.