What does outdoor curling in Red Square, French Rap music and Harry Styles have in common... Meet Team Switzerland

  • Silvana Tirinzoni's Swiss team Photo: © WCF / Céline Stucki

Now, only two months until the Olympic Winter Games 2018, we meet another set of teams to compete in Gangneung, in the Republic of Korea, in February.

In this next edition of our series, we speak to the athletes from Switzerland.

Of the Swiss athletes that will compete in the women’s and men’s teams’ competitions at the Games, only two of them are already Olympians – Claudia Paetz (third) and Benoit Schwarz (alternate). These athletes were part of Sven Michel’s eighth placed Swiss team at Sochi 2014, in Russia. In PyeongChang, Paetz and Schwarz will compete with Team Peter de Cruz.

Peter de Cruz skips his team, but plays second stones. The rest of the teamare fourth Schwarz, third Paetz, lead Valentin Tanner and alternate Dominik Maerki. In 2017, this team won bronze medals at the World Men’s Curling Championship in Edmonton, Canada and at their home Europeans in St Gallen.

It was this success that handed them an automatic selection to represent Switzerland at the Games in February.

For the women’s team, which is made up of skip Silvana Tirinzoni, vice-skip and third Manuela Siegrist, second Esther Neunschwander, lead Marlene Albrecht and alternate Jenny Perret, they had to win a play-down event with two former world champion teams – Team Binia Feltscher and Team Alina Paetz.

Tirinzoni’s team won the triple round-robin with a 6-0 record – in Biel, Switzerland, in October – securing their place at the Games.

Now let’s find out a some more about these teams…

Team Switzerland (Women)

Q: Do you have nicknames within the team and what's the story behind them?

Silvana: Tiri as it’s a short version of Tirinzoni.
Manu: Manu and Siggs, which are both short versions of my first and last names.

Q: What is your guilty pleasure (food, film, music)?

Silvana: Singer-songwriter James Blunt.
Manu: The US reality TV show, The Bachelor.
Marlene: I love candy.
Esther: Harry Styles (former One Direction singer).

Q: What career would you have if you weren't a curler?

Silvana: I would have probably worked in a bank.
Manu: Events manager.
Esther: Maybe the same job as I have now (accountant), but with a higher salary.
Marlene: Something to do with sports.

Q: Who is the joker of the team?

Silvana: Marlene [pictured below, © WCF / Céline Stucki] has a gift in knowing how to loosen the team up when things get serious. Even if she ‘needs’ to fall over a rock to make us laugh, she does that for the team.
Q: Who is the most serious member of the team?

Silvana: Esther likes when things are in order. You can tell by far, which seat in the changing room belongs to her. Her clothes are always folded accurately – something the rest of the team is jealous about.

Q: Greatest achievement as a rink?

Silvana: Winning the Tour Challenge was the first major title we won. It was in Paradise [Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada] in a small but crowded arena. In the final game there was fog on the ice. We could hardly see the broom from the other end and we had to steal in the last to tie. All of a sudden, it was a steal of two and we won!

Winning the Olympic trials was special too, but in a different way. We formed this team five years ago and the Olympics was always one of our main goals. This summer we worked even more towards this and when it came down to that particular week [at the Swiss trials], we were more than ready for it. To win all our round-robin games was not what we could expect because we knew that we had strong opponents. That we made it with a record of 6-0 was spectacular and doesn’t leave any questions open.

Team Switzerland (Men)
Q: Do you have nicknames within the team and what's the story behind them?

A: We don’t use nicknames very often but rather when we’re having a go at each other. Peter [de Cruz] gets called ‘Roast beef’ or ‘Fish’n’chips’ because of his English origins. Benoit [Schwarz] gets called ‘Nabot’ which is a French word for small.

Q: What music do you listen to prior to events?

A: Anything from Valentin’s [Tanner] French rap to Claudio’s [Paetz] traditional Swiss German music.

Q: Where's the best place you have visited as a curler?

A: Probably playing at home in the Swiss Alps. Outdoor curling on Red Square in Moscow was special too.

Q: Who is the joker of the team?

A: Valentin Tanner, no question! [pictured below sharing a laugh with Scotland’s Kyle Smith, © WCF / Eakin Howard]
Q: Who is the most serious member of the team?

A: Claudio Paetz, he’s slowly getting old!

Q: What do you do in your spare time to relax?

A: We’re very competitive off the ice too – we like a game of mini-golf or playing cards. The main goal is always to make sure Valentin loses.

Q: Greatest achievement as a rink?

A: Bronze medal at 2017 World Championships. What an experience that was!
In the run-up to the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, Republic of Korea we celebrate the success of the curling qualifiers heading to the Games in (8-25) February and (9-18) March.

In the coming weeks and months, we will speak to the athletes that have been selected or qualified to represent their Member Association in the Gangneung Curling Centre.

To follow the build-up to the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, follow us on Twitter, Instagram (@worldcurling) and Facebook (/WorldCurlingFederation) and use the hashtags: #Roadto2018 #curling

by Michael Houston, feature writer