Team USA’s biggest curling winners were happy to be in the company of “The Biggest Loser” Tuesday night.
Three of the four members of what has been called America’s All-Star curling team — Jessica Schultz, Debbie McCormick and Ann Swisshelm — were featured as part of the NBC program. The three women, who will compete in Sochi along with their skip, Erika Brown, filmed their portion of the episode back in the fall while they were in Park City, Utah, for the United States Olympic Committee’s Team USA Media Summit.
“We got to hang out with the contestants, and these people worked so hard to get where they are now,” Schultz said. “Their stories just drive you. I was talking to one girl who gained so much weight she didn’t want to go home.”
Schultz, who will be making her second trip to the Winter Games in Sochi, said she could relate to the difficulty of having to lose weight. She said she has lost nearly 40 pounds since making her Olympic debut in Torino in 2006, and now weighs about 130 pounds.
“It is a big wake-up call when you can’t go up steps,” said Schultz, who in addition to training for the Winter Games also works as a physical therapist assistant.
How did she do it?
Nothing fancy. No celebrity quick diet. Schultz said she did the basic stuff, picking up running and growing her own vegetable garden so she would eat better. To train for these Winter Games, she participated in a weightlifting program and circuit training, and hits the gym three to four days a week.
All four members of Team Brown have Olympic experience. Brown participated in curling when it was a demonstration sport in the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary. A decade later, she competed in the Winter Games in Nagano. Swisshelm competed on the U.S. Olympic Team in 2002 and McCormick has made three trips to the Winter Games, in 1998, 2002 and skipped the team in 2010.
Other Olympians who were featured in this week’s episode of the show are eight-time Olympic medalist speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno, bobsled driver Jazmine Fenlator and Lolo Jones, an Olympic hurdler who is hoping to make the Winter Games in Sochi in bobsled.
Ohno is one of the most recognized American winter sport athletes and will be on broadcasting duties next month in Sochi. Jones, too, is one of the big names to watch in Sochi as she made the transition from track & field to racing down icy chutes in hopes of her first Olympic medal.
For the curlers, however, being on this show was a chance for them to get exposure they do not normally attract. But Team Brown, which finished fourth at the 2013 world championships, could see even more media attention if it earns a medal in Sochi. No U.S. women’s curling team has earned an Olympic medal; women’s curling was added to the Olympic program in 1998.
“We did a demonstration of the sport and went over the rules (of curling),” Schultz said of the curlers’ appearance on the show. “It’s great because everybody’s going to see it.”
The curlers are pretty busy this week preparing for the 2014 WFG Continental Cup in Las Vegas but they said they might sneak out to control the remote and tune in for their primetime debut and maybe their new-found fans will watch them compete next month in Sochi where they hope to be the biggest winners.
Amy Rosewater is a freelance writer and editor for TeamUSA.org. A former sports reporter for The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, she has covered two Olympic Games and two Olympic Winter Games. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and USA Today.