Posted: Saturday February 25, 2006 11:48PM; Updated: Monday February 27, 2006 12:07PM
SI: Is Bemidji the curling capital of the U.S.? Baird: We don't have a huge number of curlers, but we have a really nice facility and we are fortunate for that. Not every town in Minnesota has that. We've had a club that has always been willing to give a lot of time to junior curling and help advance curlers and give competitive curlers ample time to practice on the ice. All that has accumulated to a lot of national champions.
SI: When you are not curling, you are an insurance agent, correct? Baird: That's my occupation. I work for IPS Incorporated, which is an independent insurance agency in Bemidji.
SI: Would you buy insurance from a guy who does curling for living? Baird: Certainly (laughs). If he's a good agent, sure.
SI: What will an Olympic medal mean for business? Baird: Well, I haven't thought about it for business, but for me personally, it would be a culmination of my curling career. I could not go out in any better style than that.
SI: Had you heard of James Coates, who was 53 years old when he placed seventh in the men's skeleton in 1948? Baird: I had not heard of him, I'm sorry to say. He competed before I was born. But I guess I got him by a few months.
SI: Does the U.S. curling team have a bitter rival? Baird: There are a lot of countries and the tournament had a lot of parity. Back home our biggest rivals are Canada, and we love to go to Canada to play there, because they have the greatest numbers of curlers in the world, as well as the best teams.
SI: Have you ever trash-talked another curler on the ice? Baird: No, we're pretty friendly out there. We always start the game with a handshake and end with a handshake. We compete fiercely but friendly.
SI: What would a gold medal in curling mean for the sport in the U.S.? Baird: I think it would do wonders for the sport of curling. Not only for getting the publicity of winning an Olympic medal, but just as a promotion in our nation. Our country is just learning about curling, really. The media [attention] we have gotten in 2002 and 2006 is really just introducing our country to the sport of curling.
SI: How long had you been attempting to be an Olympian prior to this year? Baird: I competed in every national trial since it was introduced in 1988 as a demonstrator sport, and I have had my own team in the last five national trials but was not able to win the national trials. I got a couple of bronzes and a silver. This year, after Pete won, he asked me join him as an alternate. I was honored and excited to come along.
SI: Who did you meet at the opening ceremonies? Baird: It was exciting. We saw Michelle Kwan and Chad Hedrick. These are just such great athletes around us. We were in awe. It's [an] honor to be amongst them.
SI: Have you learned the Italian world for curling? Baird: I haven't. Maybe it's "curling."
SI: Your captain, Pete Fenson, owns a couple of pizza shops. What do you recommend? Baird: The name is Dave's Pizza in Bemidji. He recently opened up another one in the Brainerd-Baxter area. The food is excellent and I highly recommend it. I'm a basic pepperoni, sausage and green olives guy.
SI: Finish the sentence. The family that curls together ... Baird: Stays together.
SI: You can do one thing in sports. What do you choose? Baird: I'd really like to play golf with Tiger Woods. I'm a huge fan.
SI: You versus Tiger Woods in curling. Who wins? Baird: I might be able to handle him in curling. At least until he caught on.
SI: How much should I pay for a Scott Baird bobblehead doll on eBay? Baird: Maybe $1.85.
SI: What do you do to stay in shape? Baird: I like to exercise, whether it be walking or running on the elliptical machine. I'm not a great runner anymore. I can't take the impact on my knees. I like the elliptical running and I rollerblade and swim in the summer.
SI: You must laugh at twentysomethings who complain about how old they are getting. Baird: Not really, because I had aches and pains when I was in my 20s. But they just stay with you when you get older.