New faces are coming to represent Sweden in the women’s competition at the Le Gruyère AOP European Curling Championships 2023 in Scotland.
Isabella Wranaa and her team ended a six-year streak of Anna Hasselborg’s European championships’ appearance and will try to follow the footsteps of their predecessors.
These two teams have played four Swedish Euro Challengers against each other. The Wranaa rink won the latest one and earned the right to represent Sweden at the upcoming European championship in Aberdeen.
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New faces not so new
Despite being new to the European women’s field, Wranaa’s team is definitely not new to the curling community. In 2017, they won the VoIP Defender World Junior Curling Championships in PyeongChang, Korea, defeating Scotland in the final.
Two years later, Team Wranaa won another gold medal. This time, at the Winter University Games in Krasnoyarsk, Russia.
Isabella Wranaa also won the European Mixed Championship back in 2014. However, she considers her biggest success winning last season’s Players’ Championship, one of the major Grand Slam events in Canada.
“It really proved that we are a team that belongs to the top of the world because of the quality and high ranking of the teams that play in this competition,” she says.
Curling, work and curling work
Despite their success on tour, the members of the young Swedish team are not professional curlers. All of them have their part-time jobs, and two of them are also students. They all agree that it is rather difficult to co-ordinate their duties, on and off the ice.
“It is really hard to find a job that allows you to be away on all your curling trips. Sometimes it is 140 travel days a year and that is really hard to combine with work. We are fortunate enough, however, that we can work less and less now,” they explain.
Isabella Wranaa is currently working for the Swedish Curling Association as coordinator for parasport.
“I will be working to help clubs start and develop curling for wheelchair athletes and athletes with other disabilities. I am very excited to be working within the sport again,” she shares her enthusiasm about her new role.
Wranaa has already worked in curling. She studied, and also taught at the Swedish Curling Academy which functions as a high school in Northern Sweden. After getting accepted, students have the opportunity to attend a curling programme as well as a usual high school programme. Students can choose various curling courses such as technique or competition planning.
Wranaa has fond memories of her days with the Academy, saying, “It has given me a lot. I had a chance to work closely with my coaches and it opened the door for me to teach there as well, and I miss attending the Academy as a student every day.”
European championship plans
The Swedish Euro Challenger took place at the end of September and the teams were already one month into the season.
Wranaa’s rink had, therefore, seasonal plans for both scenarios — in case they lose the challenger and in case they win it.
Winning meant some adjustments to their schedule, especially for the weeks just before the European championship in Aberdeen.
“When we won, we switched it a little bit in order to train a bit more before the European championship and not to play every single weekend before the competition. Still, we have a pretty packed season. We are planning to play all the Grand Slams that we qualify for and some more World Curling Tour events,” adds Wranaa.
The team is currently eighth in the world ranking, leaving most of the European top teams behind. However, they are hesitant to set specific goals for their first European championship.
“We are trying not to put too much pressure on ourselves for our first Europeans, so we will just try to come as much prepared as we possibly can and perform as well as we can, and we will see. In the future, we would, of course, aim at a medal,” they say.
The team brings Jennie Waahlin along as their alternate. Waahlin was a long-time member of Team Wranaa and won gold medal at the Winter Olympic Games in 2018 as the alternate for Hasselborg’s team. Both Isabella Wranaa and Jennie Waahlin are members of the Swedish Curling Hall of Fame. Playing third is Olympic mixed doubles bronze medallist, Almida de Val.
“We had been team members for around 18 years before Jennie quit playing, so it feels great to have her back and we believe she will be a great addition to our team at the European championship,” adds Wranaa.
Written by Feature Writer, Anna Kubeskova
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