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Norwegian curling great Thomas Ulsrud, winner of 2010 Olympic silver, dies at 50

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Norway's skip Thomas Ulsrud makes a call during a men's curling match against Italy at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. Ulsrud, a three-time Olympian who won silver at the 2010 Vancouver Games, has died after a long illness, the World Curling Federation said Wednesday. CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Natacha Pisarenko

Norwegian curler Thomas Ulsrud, a three-time Olympian who won silver at the 2010 Vancouver Games, has died after a long illness, the World Curling Federation said Wednesday.

He was 50. 

In a Facebook post, Team Ulsrud said that the longtime skip, who died Tuesday night, had been fighting cancer since December 2020. 

"The last week it took a turn for the worse and in the end he was gone very quickly. We the team are devastated for our loss. Being around Ulsrud was always a joy and we will miss our skipper deeply! 

"We’re sending all our love and thoughts to his family who were with him 'til the end."

Ulsrud won a world title in 2014 in Beijing and took silver the next year in Halifax. He competed in 12 world men's curling championships in all, winning bronze in 2006, '08 and '09.

"He was not only a great player - I think one of the best that Norway has ever had - but also just a wonderful human being and gentleman," said Canadian curler John Morris. 

A colourful skip with the famous 'fancy pants' to match, Ulsrud reached the European curling championship podium in 11 of his 17 appearances, taking gold in 2010 and '11. 

Kate Caithness, president of the WCF, said Ulsrud and his teammates made a "huge impact on the international stage."

"They took the curling world by storm and very quickly fans fell in love with this charismatic team, and in particular their skip Thomas," she said. "They went on to win the Olympic silver medals in 2010 and attracted fans wherever they curled. They were huge ambassadors for the sport both on and off the ice and I have always said that Vancouver was the turning point for our sport.

"We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Thomas who will always have a place in our hearts and in curling’s history. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and the curling family around the world."

Ulsrud guided Norway to a fifth-place finish at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and a sixth-place result at the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

"This one hits deep," tweeted Ben Hebert, who played with Morris, Marc Kennedy and Kevin Martin on the Canadian team that beat Norway in the 2010 Olympic final. "The best kind of person was Thomas Ulsrud! He will be missed by Everyone … Sad day and gone way too soon."

St. John's-based skip Brad Gushue, who also played against Ulsrud many times over the years, also weighed in on Twitter.

"Heartbroken to hear about the passing of Thomas Ulsrud," Gushue said. "He was a great curler, but more importantly an incredible person. Always had a smile or willing to share a laugh. Send my condolences to his family, friends and teammates, he will be missed."

Ulsrud is survived by his wife, Elin, and son, Jesper.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2022. 

The Canadian Press