The white sheets of curling ice at the MTS Centre were a blaze of Burgundy Sunday.
Ron Burgundy, the satirical newscaster and lead character in the movie Anchorman, who promised to paint Winnipeg burgundy in television commercials aired during the past week, had fans roaring with laughter and the bewildered scratching their heads on the opening day of the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings.
Sporting a red plaid kilt and burgundy blazer, Burgundy ascended to the press box during the opening draw Sunday as cheers erupted from the stands.
"Ron Burgundy!" roared those who recognized the film character, portrayed by Saturday Night Live alumnus Will Ferrell. Packs of young men dressed in tacky blazers in homage to their hero roamed the arena looking for him.
In the stands and at home watching the TSN telecast, some curling fans -- who had no idea who Ron Burgundy is -- seemed unamused by the distraction from the Olympic trials. Sixteen teams are in Winnipeg this week vying to represent Canada at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
One viewer even called the Free Press to complain about the "jackass" who disrespected the curlers.
A group of five young men decked out in Anchorman-style blazers and moustaches cheered from their seats for Burgundy and held up signs, but were ignored.
"Why won't you look at us, Ron?" they bellowed.
Nic Zilinski said he and his friends bought tickets to the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings mainly because of Burgundy. They went shopping at Value Village for the appropriate attire and bought tickets for Sunday's draw.
"We've been into this event for a week now," said Marc Paquette. The exuberant University of Manitoba students had been told by the hardcore curling crowd around them several times to pipe down, said Paquette.
"We bring the energy!"
They were also cheering for Winnipeg's Jennifer Jones and excited to be at Canada's Olympic curling qualifier, Zilinski said.
"We need to be at this event and support whoever is going."
So did Burgundy.
At a brief news conference before entering the press box, Burgundy talked about his contribution to the roaring game.
"I can bring a certain amount of dignity and class." Not to mention haute couture, said the celebrity wearing an indestructible burgundy blazer.
"This is made from quality man-made fibres -- a beautiful polyester blend," Burgundy told a swarm of reporters.
When asked what Winnipeg means, Burgundy had an explanation.
"It's Latin in its root," he said, mistakenly confident. "It means a small tundra bunny who lives in a hole on the side of the hill."
Winnipeg got its name from the Cree word that means muddy water, and is hosting what's been called the most significant curling event ever held in the city.
There are more than 1,000 volunteers and thousands of fans and media from across North America watching the games -- including Burgundy and his entourage promoting his next movie, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. Cardboard moustache cutouts advertising it were handed out in the stands.
After the opening ceremony Sunday morning, when the Winnipeg Police Pipes and Drums band and the 16 competing teams left the arena, Burgundy appeared unexpectedly at ice level.
"There he is!" said curling and Burgundy fan Trish Rey. "Very classy!"
Rey, who's from Winnipeg, said she knows Ferrell is poking fun at curling but thinks the sport can take it. "It's OK if it's not mean." His appearance at the event grabbed the attention of people who care little for curling and likely raised its profile, she said.
She watched Burgundy on the ice as he was given a quick lesson on throwing a stone by one of the curlers.
"I'm a little nervous for him," said Rey, watching him position himself.
Burgundy's feet never left the hack but he still managed to throw a stone that hit the 12-foot ring. The crowd cheered and Burgundy raised his arms in triumph.
Rey was relieved and pleased the faux broadcaster visited the event.
"It's cool, hey?"
Before the doors opened and the guest of honour arrived, one curling fan was already painting the town burgundy.
Decked out in a burgundy wig and dyed beard, Hans Madsen of Yorkton, Sask., said he was saluting Ron Burgundy even though he didn't know of him.
"I don't own a TV. The kids said, 'You gotta see this guy.' "
The fun-loving fan, who follows women's curling events around the world, has 28 wigs he wears to the events, and Sunday he chose burgundy.
"It's to make the teams smile."
dOUG SPEIRS: Hangin' with RON / A14