By Wendy Langhans
The first time I saw the Norwegian Olympic Curling Team’s pants, I thought, “there must be something wrong with our TV”. But it wasn’t the TV – it was the pants. “They can’t be serious”, I thought. Not even Johnny Weir would wear that on the ice. But they were serious, and their garish yet whimisical team uniforms captured the attention of the world.
The Norwegian Olympic Curling Team Pants. Photo courtesy Robert Beck/Sports Illustrated (a CNN network site).
But this is not the first time I’ve seen bright, contrasting colors and checkerboard patterns. Check out the colors and patterns on these Checkerspot butterfly wings.
Variable Checkerspot Butterfly
Gabb’s Checkerspot Butterfly
They’re similar, are they not? So why did these patterns evolve in butterflies? The answer can be summarized in the old saying: “once hurt, twice shy”.
Whenever butterflies are flitting about, they run the risk of being eaten by birds, snakes and lizards. As a defense mechanism against predators, some butterflies contain toxins. When an animal takes a bite, not only does the butterfly taste nasty, it also makes the animal sick. The animal learns (the hard way) that eating a butterfly with a black/orange/white checkerboard pattern will make it sick. In the future, it avoids those butterflies. So the color patterns captures their attention and sends them a message to “back off”.
What does this have to do with curling? Well, it’s hard to capture anyone’s attention wearing the traditional black or gray curling pants. So I believe the Norwegian curler Chris Svae chose these pants for a reason: he wanted to draw the public’s attention to the sport. It certainly worked out that way. The Facebook page, The Norwegian Olympic Curling Team’s Pants, now has over 600,000 fans.
But I wonder if, on the ice, these bright colored pants were too effective? Athletes have a saying: you have to “keep your head in the game”. Anything that distracts your attention gives your competitor an advantage. Did these pants distract the other players? We’ll know the answer to that question if and when the World Curling Federations makes a new rule about player’s uniforms.
Upcoming Outdoor Events:
For Facebook Users: 90 Days of Santa Clarita Valley Wildflowers.
Here’s a new way to familiarize yourself with our local wildflowers. Become a fan of the page, “90 Days of Santa Clarita Valley Wildflowers” and from now through April, each day you’ll receive a photo of a local wildflower and a link to a website where you can learn more.
Saturday, March 20, 8-10 AM. Early morning bird hike. March is a special time to glimpse unique migratory birds as they travel North. Enjoy another wonderful walk with our in-house birder, Volunteer Naturalist Roger. Beginners are welcome. Bring binoculars. Heavy rains cancel. For map, click here.
You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on “The Hike Report”, brought to you by your hometown radio station KHTS (AM1220) and by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.