It’s all things Swiss in today’s The Curling News Blogpost.
Well... why not?
1. Team Mirjam Ott made some waves at the end of the 2008-09 season by replacing second Valeria Spaelty with team alternate Carmen Kueng. Spaelty was the last remaining member of Ott’s 2006 Olympic silver medallist foursome, and Kung had been the squad’s dedicated alternate the last couple of seasons.
A photo of the new Team Ott, who are pretty much confirmed to represent Switzerland at Vancouver 2010, is located here. The accompanying update states the squad will be taking a full six-month leave of absence from work to focus on the drive to Vancouver, which will include six weeks of training/touring in Canada.
2. Team Ralph Stoeckli, fourth-place finishers at the Ford Worlds in Moncton, need to win a special best-of-seven playoff against 2008 European rep Stefan Karnusian to book their tickets to Vancouver. But should they win, they will not be heading to the Games with team coach Russ Howard.
Russ has confirmed his gig with the CTV Olympic broadcast consortium – which of course features the TSN curling crew – and will be doing the suit and tie thing in Vancouver. Howard might still be jetting to Switzerland in September to do some work with the squad – this is still TBD – but he definitely won’t be wearing the white cross in February.
Here’s a photo of Howard in his Swiss duds, consulting with Stoeckli and lead Simon Struebin, who just happens to be Europe’s representative on the board of the new World Curling Players’ Association (as we revealed last month).
Back in November, you may recall that TCN scored the first photo of Russ in his new coaching career.
Speaking of photos, the CCA image above (shot by Michael Burns) shows Stoeckli in a huge fist pump just as his final throw settles into the button for a big win in Moncton.
3. But there’s another Canadian coaching saga in Switzerland... two, in fact. The husband and wife team of Lorne and Chris Hamblin have been hired as Swiss Curling’s new national team coaches.
According to the Winnipeg Free Press story, Hamblin said he and his wife only wanted a chance to coach at a high level and the Swiss opportunity came along before any other. “If there had been similar opportunities in Canada," said Hamblin, “we would have pursued that. But there weren’t.”
4. Andreas “Andi” Schwaller has hung up his boots... for now. The man who rivalled Stoeckli for Swiss skipping honours throughout this decade – winning world silver in 2001 and Olympic bronze in 2002 – has retired from competition... but perhaps only for a year, as this story would indicate.
You can also listen to a radio interview with Schwaller – in German, of course – on this page.
So, there you go. Anything else for the rest of this North American holiday week?
• CTV’s retrospective Olympic features titled “Where Are They Now?” includes Joan McCusker, and that famed 1998 Olympic championship squad ...
• Sudbury, Ontario is currently hosting its annual Dominion Amethyst Curling Camp, which is previewed here and also featured here ...
• Three-quarters of Team Jennifer Jones made an appearance last weekend in Blackfalds, Alberta ...
• Kansas City, USA curling action takes place on Monday nights through August 31 ...
• And finally, the New Zealand curling championships started today, with the finals set to wrap up on Sunday ...