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Harder leaves SWISSCURLING, ready for new challenges

Armin Harder (left) with National Coach Al Moore and the WWCC Trophy
Armin Harder (left) with National Coach Al Moore and the WWCC Trophy

Armin Harder, the High Performance Director of the Swiss Curling Association, has announced his resignation after eight years of successful involvement with the national association.

“I have enjoyed serving the interests of SWISSCURLING and I know I am leaving with the organization in excellent shape,” said Harder. “The future of Swiss curling is as bright as the present.”

Harder served a total of eight years with SWISSCURLING; two years as a delegate, and six years as Sports Department Chief which included four years as a delegate to the World Curling Federation.

He first made waves by fighting for an open and fair (but challenging) qualification system, thus averting the plan of SWISSCURLING’s then-leaders to embrace a new selection system for the national teams. As the architect of the current system, he completely changed the elite program and introduced a major overhaul of the junior program, which required the hiring of new personnel and budget streamlining to divert more funds to development, coaching and athletes.

The results have been spectacular, as Harder leaves as the most successful High Performance leader in Switzerland’s curling history. Since 2010, a total of 25 medals have been won by SWISSCURLING teams: 14 gold, three silver and eight bronze. Furthermore, gold medals have been won across varied disciplines: Youth Olympic Games, Women’s Worlds, World Mixed Doubles, World Mixed, European Men’s and Women’s, and World Junior Men.

Currently, Swiss Women are ranked No. 1 in the world, only the second time time a country other than Canada has held this position (World Curling Rankings, WCF).

“Armin had a clear vision when he started and six years later we are definitely on a very good path,” said Andreas Schwaller, Head Coach for SWISSCURLING and a 2002 Olympic bronze medallist. “With our system we gave athletes transparency and encouraged them to tour, so they gained experience and became stronger. When Mirjam Ott won the worlds in 2012 and Sven Michel won the 2013 Euros, it was a big message to all Swiss teams, and it made them believe.

“It’s hard to prove, but SCA would never have reached the latest successes without Armin. He will be missed and I wish him nothing but the best.”

“I want to thank the staff at SWISSCURLING for a great eight years,” said Armin Harder. “Also particular thanks to Andi Schwaller, Al Moore and Marco Battilana, as well as my EC members in particular SCA President Louis Moser, whose leadership made all the positive changes even possible. Finally, great thanks to all the athletes, coaches and support staff I have worked with and represented so proudly over the years.”

Harder plans to consider new challenges, but expects to continue his key role with the Curling Champions Tour, which recently announced new championship events taking place in Korea and China.