International friendships create lasting memories

By David Garber, U.S. Curling News Columnist,

argue I have already achieved this goal. Well, no soup for you! Now let’s get started. Have you ever looked


through your old business cards? On the surface, this task does seem like nothing, but doing so evokes long-forgotten memories and reminders of many people we’ve met. My business card file includes names from around the world: All my jobs aſter college included extensive travel, from the U.S. Army to an insurance company with lo- cations in Europe, Iran and Bermuda, to the U.S. Curling Association. I have two large three-ring binders full of cards, in several languages. National contacts

I have scores of cards from people connected

with U.S. sport National Governing Bodies and the U.S. Olympic Committee. I have some great stories I could tell but, since these are Americans, they likely know or are related to a good attorney and thus would likely sue me and win. So at least for now, I will relate mostly international stories. International relations

Last issue I mentioned my scholastic winter

sports included, among others, wrestling and curling. Many years later, at the 2003 World Curling Championship in Winnipeg (Team USA women won gold!), wrestling and curling once again came together for me. During the week, the Russian Curling Federation hosted a recep- tion at their hotel. I was introduced to the presi- dent of the (then) Urals Curling Association. He was once a heavyweight national class wrestler. I was struck by the size of the man, who wore an elegant tailored suit. One doesn’t meet too many curler-wrestlers in day-to-day life, and once he found out we shared experience in both sports, he took me under his wing. Alexandr guided me through an attractive buffet – he insisted we go first and no one argued. Te first treat was a small, OK a medium, wa-

ter glass containing chilled vodka. Next was, yes, caviar, which I had never eaten. Te caviar was

decided I would like to have a column like that 1990s era wildly popular show, Sein- feld. A column about nothing. Some may

excellent, perhaps because Russian caviar is the world’s finest. (Had it been brought over from the Caspian Sea or was it a great Canadian facsimi- le?) Oh – the vodka went down quite smoothly, thank you. I leſt the reception thinking that this particular effort in fostering positive interna- tional relations was a bilateral success. At the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Japan,

curling was back aſter a 74-year hiatus as a medal sport. (In 1924, in France’s beautiful Chamonix, the countries of France, Great Britain and Swe- den were the only three nations present, with Great Britain winning gold, Sweden silver and France bronze. Geez, getting an Olympic curling medal was easier then.) Te village of Karuizawa, a touristy mountain attraction under an active volcano called Mount Asama (which is erupting as we write) was an official satellite village, host- ing curling. I have many business cards in Japa- nese and English from these games, whether they be Olympic host folks, sponsors, Japan Curling Association big wigs, or, in the case at hand, K. Matsuba, then the mayor of Karuizawa. Te mayor hosted a dinner-reception for the nations present. (Nice to be the guest at these affairs.) I was asked by U.S. Team Leader Tom Satrom to represent the USCA, because Tom felt my table manners, being from Wisconsin and all, would be adequate for the job. Te meal featured about 10 courses of authen-

tic Japanese fare. Japan is an island chain, with exotic seafood common, much of which looks like microscopic stuff blown up to edible size. I was told the protocol was, as long as I ate a bite of each course, I did not have to finish a course. I did enjoy several of the courses but, not being an adventurous eater like Anthony Bourdain, for several I stuck to the single bite option. If criti- cized, my plan was to introduce myself as Tom Satrom, but I only brought my own business cards to exchange, and as everyone exchanges business cards at these affairs, I knew that strat- egy would not work. International products

Going back a bit further in time, I ran across

a card from a familiar person. By sheer coinci- dence, during a business trip in the early 1980s, I ran across a high school classmate and friend of

USA Curling (( 31

mine, John X., in a hotel lobby in New York City. I was not yet with the USCA, but I was already a long-time curler. John was a sales executive with Bally, the Swiss upscale shoe company. By chance, Bally sold a line of (expensive) curling shoes, which cost two or three times the going rate in North America. John and I had a nice chat and perhaps a cocktail, sharing some old times. Te good news: John had a complimentary pair of Bally shoes shipped to me. Te bad news: Tey were a size too big. But good news! Tey fit my brother’s feet and made a great birthday present. For a few years, Paul sported the most expensive pair of curling shoes in North America. Q Note: It is always good when a reader corrects

me because it means I have a reader. Jim O’Neill provided the actual year curling ended as a Wis- consin Interscholastic Athletic Association sport. It was 1974, not earlier as I wrote last issue. Tank you, Tip!

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