SWIFT CURRENT, Sask. – Oh Andrea. What are we to do about you?
The CCA/Michael Burns photo at left shows all the medallists who made the 2010 Ford World Curling Championship such a smashing success (click image to increase size). In summary:
• Canada’s Jennifer Jones fought off more playoff disappointment to reach out and grab the bronze medal which eluded her last year, and had some choice words for the media along the way (video here). As one Winnipeg Free Press headline writer noted, JJ wants some R-E-S-P-E-C-T, people.
• Scotland’s Lady Eve Muirhead is more than the curling “it” girl right now: she’s a talented shooter and leader, and will no doubt have her choice of domestic (non-Olympic) teammates for many years to come. One only hopes she doesn’t get too distracted by golf – another sport in which she excels – and chooses to continue testing her curling skills at the highest level.
• There were non-podium stars, too. Latvia made their first appearance, won their first game, and inspired the TSN TV guys to build a wonderful video highlight. Norway’s Linn Githmark wore more crazy pants, shook her thang and captured hearts, as this local blat clearly states. The Swedish girls, who finished fourth, look like an exciting young generation that is basically right here, right now.
And now for the new champions, Germany, and their skip.
Andrea Schoepp has had quite the curling season, winning European and now World gold like she did some 22 years ago, back when she was new to the scene and did a fine job of shaking up the staid, reserved world of women’s curling.
Canada’s Marilyn Darte (Bodogh) had first shaken things up a couple of years earlier, in 1986, but she and her gang of gorgeous, kilted ice maidens would soon be ousted in the determination department by this young German.
And she hasn’t changed much. Schoepp glowers. She glares. She growls. She stomps and berates. Her sweeping calls sound like a bobcat meeting a buzz saw.
She’s been kicked out of curling, by her own national federation (for disobedience, as we recall) and had to miss the 2002 Olympics and worlds. After a couple of years away she then returned, declaring her love for the sport and her new attitude, which focuses on fun.
It was definitely Angry Andrea, the fiery competitor, who showed up in Swift Current after going 3-6 at the Olympics… which, by the way, is an event she would rather not compete in at all. As we noted in the supercharged post-Olympic March issue of The Curling News, Schoepp gave an interview to Germany’s ZDF before Vancouver 2010 that had many shaking their heads. In this rough translation, she said things like:
I wouldn’t mind if all this crap were cancelled… The Olympics are just annoying… I feel zero excitement.
As TV viewers couldn’t help but notice, Schoepp exploded at her team, which features 17-year-old Stella Heiss, rotating lead Corinne Scholz, Canadian-born Melanie Robillard and, of course, “Moni”, the long-suffering Monika Wagner who has been with her skipper through some 17 years of Schoeppdom. The eruption took place after the skip’s last shot of the game, which unfortunately settled into an auto-freeze position, basically turning a guaranteed stolen victory into a combination-runback for Scotland to score one, and force an extra end.
Schoepp continued berating her team until coach and brother Rainer Schoepp – who teamed with his sister and Robillard to win European Mixed gold two years ago – came out and calmed her down. Schoepp reportedly apologized to her teammates, and did so again after throwing her winning shot some 20 minutes later. In fact, Schoepp apologized repeatedly amid the victory hugs.
Schoepp is an enigma. It’s easy to see how it would be a challenge to compete with her, just as much as to compete against her. But Schoepp is also funny and witty. She has a great smile, although she doesn’t share it on the ice. She gives great media quotes about an apparent love/hate relationship with her sport, expressing exasperation that she needs to go out and recruit young girls to try curling and then mould them – almost immediately – into teammates for world play.
Here’s another media zinger from this past week, which was hinted at in that ZDF story above:
I wasn’t looking forward to the Olympics, but the whole season I was looking forward to this event. I know I’m not normal and maybe a little bit crazy and different, but that’s the way I’m feeling.
This event you play just for you. You are the main sport, you are the people where everything is all about (you). The Olympics, as a curler, you are kind of in the background.
However, her 10th end meltdown was enough to send Canadian curling fans into a tizzy, as the Comments section below this online story indicates.
Schoepp definitely struck gold this season, in terms of her teammates. Heiss doesn’t have much experience, but is well-trained in what her skip expects from lead stone. She ranked dead last for leads dueing the round robin, but stepped it up for the playoffs. The addition of Scholz this season was a great move, as she is a priceless curling gem in Germany: a hard-working curling talent who attended WCF camps for years, on her own, in order to improve her game. Schoepp didn’t recruit her: curling did.
The real key was Robillard. The Canadian who actually lives in Belgium and is now reportedly moving to Spain first replaced Wagner at third stone near the tail end of last year’s worlds in Korea… and the results have been spectacular. Wagner’s game as a third had fallen off in recent years, and she replied to the change with stellar play at her new front-end position. Robillard simply offers more to Schoepp as a third shooter, and then sweeps skip stones.
It was a strange final. After playing so well to convincingly beat Canada earlier in the playoffs, both Schoepp and Muirhead – and their teammates – struggled. In the end, the winning skip fired a 67 per cent shooting average, compared to the loser’s 77 per cent.
So many questions. If Schoepp were male, would people be so quick to judge her temper, her judgement, her intensity? Hey, we’re just asking.
Here’s a quick quote from Robillard, after the victory: “She (Schoepp) is becoming a legend. She’s never going to give up. I have a lot of respect for her.”
So. Andrea… what about you, who seems to rub so many people the wrong way? What are we to do about you?
Today, we can all agree on one word: congratulations!
[All Canadian Curling Association photos by Michael Burns. Click on images to increase size]