Curlers: The new Olympic sex symbols

FILE-- Team Canada skip Cheryl Bernard reacts to her final shot on her way to defeating Team Germany 6-5 during Olympic women's curling action at the Olympic Centre on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2010 during the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. Are curlers the new sexy beasts?There was a time when you didn't hear the words curler and fit in the same sentence. But looking at the field at the 2010 Winter Olympics — led by fitness poster boy John Morris of Ottawa and buff fitness freak Cheryl Bernard of Calgary — the sport seems to have been given a sexy makeover. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

VANCOUVER - Are curlers the new sexy beasts?

There was a time when you didn't hear the words curler and fit in the same sentence. But looking at the field at the 2010 Winter Olympics — led by fitness poster boy John Morris of Ottawa and buff fitness freak Cheryl Bernard of Calgary — the sport seems to have been given a sexy makeover.

And people are taking notice.

Morris, who has written the book "Fit to Curl," was named as one of the top 10 bachelors by "Entertainment Tonight Canada" while Chris Plys, an earring-wearing, guitar-playing 22-year-old alternate with the U.S. curling team, was listed as Entertainment Weekly's Olympic Stud of the Day.

"I think over the last 10 years we've seen it definitely change in curling,'' Morris told The Canadian Press. "Back in the day of Eddie Werenich and Paul Savage and as great as those guys were — the image of the sport was more of a beer-drinking, blue-collar type of sport.

"I think with the inclusion of curling in the Olympics and just where curling has sort of evolved to, you need to be athletic and you need to be in good shape to be able to perform well at the game."

The sex appeal factor has not been lost on the 31-year-old Morris, who has been checking out the Olympic women's field.

"I’d say the Russians," Morris said with a chuckle.

Swedish skip Niklas Edin, a 24-year-old with a fan base of his own, admits times have changed.

“In Sweden, curling is known as an old man’s sport, but now women are starting to notice it’s not anymore. I got an email from one. It was a strange one,” he said

“I don’t think I should talk about it."

Bernard, 43, doesn't mind the attention she has been getting from both Canadian and international admirers. She works out with a private trainer a couple of times a week and spends hours at the gym.

"I don't know what to say to that. That's nice," she said of the attention.

"I don't think it hurts women's curling and as long as you're out doing what you're supposed to be doing out there and not focused on anything else. We all take our fitness pretty seriously so I don't think there's anything wrong with being considered fit."

Bernard has joked she is more interested in watching members of Canada's hockey team than fellow curlers. But Britain's 19-year-old skip, Eve Muirhead can understand the attention the athletes are getting in her sport.

"The game has gone to more and more fitness and conditioning. They’ve got muscles and look like other athletes now. And there are a few who are quite good-looking."