Two Olympic gold medals are enough.
It may not be a shock to many curling followers, but yesterday’s news conference in Sweden still managed to draw gasps of surprise as it marked the official end of the road for one of the greatest women’s curling teams in history.
Team Anette Norberg, twice world champions and also Olympic champions in 2006 and 2010, have called it quits. Eva Lund, Cathrine Lindahl (Norberg’s sister) and Anna Le Moine announced their retirement, and only skip Norberg will soldier on, although possibly in an off-ice role.
The decision came following the return of the athletes to everyday life with their families and careers.
“It takes too much energy to be on top” a teary-eyed Lund told the assembled media in Stockholm. “The energy it takes to stay on top does not seem reasonable to spend right now.”
“It’s been a very difficult decision to make,” said Le Moine, who left the door open for a future return to competition. “Right now it feels like I’ve quit, but it is possible that I can come back in the future.”
Norberg herself will continue with the sport, but she was vague on whether she would be assembling a new team or moving into a coaching role.
“I will continue to work with curling, and helping young talent,” Norberg said. She added that the age gaps in the sport are a concern to her, and the idea is to help assemble a future team which can continue on without her.
Lund and Le Moine also expressed interest in sharing the knowledge they have gained over the years. Among other things, they want to show young women who, in other sports, usually stop competing after their twenties – that it is possible to combine curling with career and family responsibilities.
As The Curling News Twitter feed revealed last week, Swiss rival Mirjam Ott and her team are not retiring, and will continue on, and target a berth at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. Ott lost the gold to Norberg four years ago in Turin, and just missed a rematch with the Swedes in Vancouver when she missed her final shot of her Olympic semifinal against Canada’s Cheryl Bernard.
Lund spoke exclusively to The Curling News shortly after Monday’s news conference.
“It was a hard decision, but the right one for me,” Lund said.
“I am very grateful that I have so many favourite curling memories. Of course the two Olympic gold medals, just the fact that it is the Olympics and due to the long, and sometimes tough journey the team had along the way to get there. On top of the podium, I almost can’t believe it.
“The Continental Cup is the most fun of it all. Best teams, best ice, best format to play in. Skins… wow, we like it. And for me personally, playing mixed doubles with Paal Trulsen was so much fun. I admire him for his skills as skip.
“To all my friends from the other teams and the ‘curling family’… I will miss you all. You will always have a special place in my heart.”
Be sure to catch the next print edition of The Curling News, scheduled for late October 2010, for an in-depth review of Team Norberg’s decorated career, and their place in the pantheon of world curling and the Olympic movement. Subscribe here.
[Anil Mungal photo is copyright The Curling News 2010]