E.J. Harnden has his Sochi gold medal to always help him remember the winter of 2014. To remember his exploits and his team's run to curling gold at the Olympics.
But, you can't wear that thing every day, can you? What about taking something with you wherever you go, for the rest of your life?
Like a tattoo. A big, ol' chest tattoo. One that you cannot get done in just one appointment with the needler.
“I still have a ways to go. I have two more sessions left,” Harnden said, over the phone, not sounding sore at all, but admitting he was. “It was not as bad as I thought it was gonna be,” he added.
Two more sessions, each of about three and a half hours. Total project time: Ten hours or so. It'll be worth it, though, as it is as portable a keepsake as you can get.
“Exactly,” replied Harnden, with a chuckle, when it I pointed out that a tattoo is easier to carry around all the time than an actual gold medal.
As you'll see by the photo that he posted to Twitter, Harnden's Olympic ink is quite an undertaking. Hence, the ongoing process. He'll take a little time to heal up before heading back into the parlour for phase two.
— E.J. Harnden (@eharnden83) July 26, 2014
Inkless prior to this, Harnden vowed he'd get a tattoo if he and his brother Ryan and their teammates, Brad Jacobs and Ryan Fry, topped the podium at Sochi.
“This is my first," he pointed out. "I said I would only get one if we won the Olympic Games. Once we won, I decided to go through with it because it’s something I’ll always be able to see and obviously it’s extremely special to me. That was the reasoning behind it.”
As you can see, Harnden's chest ink is a sprawling bit of artistry, with those Olympic rings coming perilously close to his left nipple. When asked if he considered getting a nipple ring and incorporating that into the design as one of the five Olympic rings, Harnden laughs.
“No! I said ‘please stay away from that as much as possible.’ As it (the needle) got closer, I could feel it hurting more and more, so I’m happy he stayed away from the close proximity of it. I do not have any plans to do anything further in and around that area,” he added, with a chuckle.
A lot of thought has gone into the design that is taking shape on Harnden's chest, with the tattoo carrying a number of elements that he holds near his heart and not just literally, now.
“I knew I wanted to do more than just the rings," he explained, outlining the reasoning and meaning behind it all. "I knew I wanted certain elements within the tattoo. It was important to have the medal in there. It was important to have the rings, obviously, and I wanted to incorporate parts of the Sochi landscape. The upper part of the tattoo, that’s all going to be snow-peaked mountains with some trees and stuff in it.”
“On the side of the medal it says ‘sacrifice’ and ‘dedication’ and on the ribbon it says ‘believe.’ Certain things that were important to me and were the reason why we ended up achieving what we did.”
“I wanted to put it somewhere where I’d be able to see it on a daily basis and be able to remind myself of the achievement and also something to continue to motivate me to push harder and want to continue to excel and possibly do it all over again.”
E.J. Harnden is not the first member of the Jacobs rink to get permanent paint on his chest. His brother, Ryan, had already begun the process, a couple of months ago.
“His is pretty cool," said E.J. "It’s a portrait of me and him after we won. It’s a picture of the both of us together, holding our gold medals.
Brother Ryan is in for the same kind of continued experience, when it comes to completion of his own tattoo.
“His was about four hours," said E.J., regarding Ryan's first session. "Same thing as me, he’s got to go back for at least one or two more sessions.”
What about the other two team members? Are they getting pectoral pictorials anytime soon?
“I think everyone has plans to," said Harnden. "I think Ryan (Fry) is probably going to be the next one to follow through. And Brad has claimed that he would like to do something, but I don’t think he’s in any rush to do so.”
Curling's 'Summer of Art' continues. An Ontario painter was inspired by the Olympics to paint a few curling portraits. And, right now, the St. Vital Curling Club, in Winnipeg, is being adorned with a giant mural of Jennifer Jones' Olympic gold medallists.