Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Playboy loves the curling calendar

What do Playboy mag and U.S. skier Bode Miller have to do with the calendar? Read on...

TURIN, ITALY – Weeks after its loud debut, curling's infamous athlete fundraising calendar is back in the spotlight... and in Playboy magazine.

The March 2006 issue (photo) of the American magazine – on sale today – includes a brief feature on the 2006 Ana Arce Team Sponsorship Calendar, which features 12 strong-willed female athletes representing curling teams from around the world. Participating athlete nations include Italy, Denmark, Spain, England, Poland, Germany, Austria and Canada.

Playboy editor Josh Robertson: If men learned one thing from the most recent summer Olympics, it's that female beach volleyballers are really hot. When we saw these photographs, it became clear that the lady curlers are the beauties to beat in Torino. Move over, figure skaters.

Originally released in November 2005, the calendar is produced in black and white and printed on high-quality oversize art paper. Each calendar weighs over one imperial pound and was created and photographed by national team curler – and calendar model – Ana Arce, who represented Spain at the 2005 European Championships.

This is a tasteful, artistic product that will help the athletes raise much needed funds for training and competition, said Arce. This proves that curlers are athletes. Strong but graceful, and of course very beautiful.

Austrian skip Claudia Toth – whose image graces the cover – is the former girlfriend of U.S. Olympic skier Bode Miller. The pair split up a year ago and Toth, at that time, refused an invitation to pose nude from the Playboy's German edition.

Toth also appears in an upcoming issue of the Austrian men's magazine Wiener. Austrian media recently broke the news of her previous relationship with Miller.

I would have prefered to keep Bode out of the whole curling thing but I also knew how unrealistic that was, Toth told The Curling News. People are just interested in gossip like that, but I don't want to comment on anything concerning our relationship.

Toth knows firsthand the challenges facing curlers in every world market outside of Canada, which boasts approximately 90 per cent of both the world's curling facilities and its recreational participants and high-performance competitors.

I loved the whole idea behind the calendar. It seems like one of the very few possibilities to make curling more popular in Europe – especially Austria.

Defending Olympic gold medallist Pal Trulsen of Norway welcomed the calendar when he first heard of the project. Trulsen's team was 2-1 after four men's draws at the 2006 Olympic curling competition in Pinerolo, Italy.

It's about time, Trulsen said. It's a fun thing, but we want curling to be just like other sports. We had the doping thing, now we have the calendar... all I know is, I'm buying it.

The 2006 Ana Arce Team Sponsorship Calendar sells for 39 euros (Europe) and 35.95 in U.S. dollars (North America), and is available via The Curling News website.

The March 2006 issue of Playboy – the annual music issue – also features a story on U.S. freestyle skiier Jeremy Bloom. Written by Pat Jordan, the story is titled Jeremy Bloom Can't Lose. He's a Skier. He's a Football Player. He's a Pop Idol. The Savvy Marketing of an Olympic Star.

The Curling News is a global authority on the sport of curling. Founded in Canada in 1957, it also publishes the world's most popular all-curling Blog and also supports Shoot For A Cure Curling, a fundraising and awareness program of the Canadian and American Spinal Research Organizations. Shoot For A Cure also supports wheelchair curling, an official sport at the 2006 Paralympic Winter Games in Turin.

The February issue of The Curling News is available now via subscription.

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