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Millionaire curler finally gets Olympic chance

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 12, 2014 at 3:41 am •  Published: February 12, 2014
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SOCHI, Russia (AP) — John Jahr slowly hitches up his pants, runs his fingers through his swept-back graying hair and gently crouches down, beckoning a curling stone toward him.

The skip of Germany's men's curling team isn't your average Olympian.

For starters, he's 48.

He's also a millionaire businessman.

So what is he doing in Sochi, throwing 44-pound slabs of granite rock down a 46-foot sheet of ice?

"I am here for the love of curling," Jahr told The Associated Press. "For the love of competition."

In an everyman sport full of characters with interesting backstories, Jahr — the oldest curler competing in these Winter Games — probably has one of the most captivating of the lot.

He is a major shareholder in two casinos, including one in his home town of Hamburg in northern Germany. He controls part of a huge German publishing house, Gruner + Jahr, which was co-founded by his grandfather and brought in revenues of 2.22 billion euros (now $3 billion) in the financial year of 2012. And he spends most of his time working in property development and investment management.

"I work in this and that," he says, with a smile.

For the past four years, and especially the last six months, his business interests have taken a back seat.

Curling has been his No. 1 priority.

Jahr was a successful player in the 1980s and '90s. He was a member of Rodger Gustaf Schmidt's European championship-winning team in 1985 and also won a silver medal with the same rink in the 1987 world championship. He skipped his own team for the 1996 world championship.

He hung up his broom in 2000, deciding — in his mid-30s — to focus on business. But there was an itch he still needed to scratch — he hadn't competed at an Olympic Games.

So, in 2010, he returned to the ice with a team from Curling Club Hamburg, a club his father founded.

"It was hard coming back, yes," Jahr recalled. "It was not the technique, I still had that. It was the skill of thinking strategy. I lost it. It needed half a year to come back with my head in the game.

"That was the hardest part of the thing."

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