Jensen and Schori celebrate curling milestones Wednesday in Kelowna

  • Denmark's Camilla Jenson (left) with Switzerland's Irene Schori (right) celebrating their 100th and 200th curling games © WCF / Jeffrey Au

Camilla Jensen (DEN) plays her 200th championship game and Irene Schori (SUI) plays her 100th championship game Wednesday at 16.00 PDT in Kelowna at the Winn Rentals World Mixed Curling championship.

She comes off the ice with a smile of pure enthusiasm.

I’m talking about Camilla Jensen, who today at 4.00p.m. exactly, will play her 200th game of curling while representing Denmark.

In the grand scheme of all things curling, some might claim that 200 is small potatoes in the vast history of games played throughout the years. On the contrary, eyebrows raise in amazement when someone states they’ve even played more than 50 championship games, let alone made it the Olympics or World Women’s.

It’s all about perspective here.

Chatting with Jensen outside the rink after a round-robin game, that excitement rubs off on you.

“Last year we were able to go to the mixed as well, and I thought my game would be there because I don’t play competitive curling anymore. When we lost that, it was then Women’s Worlds in North Bay and I thought that was it. I never thought I would reach the 200.”

It’s clear she’s thankful to be in Kelowna.

For context, 200 games at the championship level for Jensen [pictured above] includes the Olympic Games, World Juniors, World Mixed Doubles, six appearances at World Women’s and many other games in between. There are few women in the History of Curling who have accomplished such a feat, but Jensen is among greats here in Kelowna with fellow competitor Andrea Schoepp from Germany, who now plays into the upper 500 count.

Jensen sees Schoepp as a role model, awing over her endurance and ability throughout many years of play.

“She’s into it and she’s involved,” adds Jensen.

While this number of games stands as a testament of Jensen’s ability and skill, it’s the hindsight view that gets her really excited.

“I’ve played the mixed and I’ve always loved it. Back in the old days it was the European mixed, and I used to have my ladies team which we went to the Olympics with. There’s been so many highlights and basically all of the teams I’ve played with have been amazing. It’s a highlight just to be in the zone.”

It’s as if the stones played in those first games and the stones here and now are markers of not only a great career, but of life lived outside of the rink too.
That theme of outside life rings true for Switzerland’s Irene Schori [pictured above], who at the same time as Jensen’s 200th game today, plays her 100th game of championship curling only two sheets away.

As I chat with Schori, she pauses in the middle of our conversation to acknowledge a young girl, running through the mix zone. The girl is the daughter of her teammates Mario and Cornelia Freiberger, the skip and lead for Team Switzerland.

“It’s one big family,” Schori says, leaning down to the girl’s level to say hello. “It’s really true. You meet people around the world, they are all very nice and friendly and then you see them somewhere else again.”

For Schori, the culmination of 100 games comes together with a somewhat capstone Kelowna experience. It was 16 years ago that she played here at the Kelowna Curling Club in the 2002 World Junior Championships. Since then, she’s gone on to play at the European Championships, World Women’s, World Mixed Doubles and the Olympic Games.

One might think that returning to Kelowna is a full circle for Schori, but she begs to disagree.

“I hope the circle is not closed,” she says. “For sure it’s great to be back, but it’s not a circle.”

“I have a new team now, and I play skip. We have lots to improve but the goal is for sure to play at Worlds,” she adds. In a sense, Kelowna only fuels the flame to play bigger and better games in the future. A cornerstone of sorts.

Jensen also looks to the next few months and years of play. This isn’t the end quite yet.

“I won’t say that I want to retire, but we’re getting to the stage where people are upcoming curlers and they’re so strong that an old woman like me can’t really keep up. I was really excited to know that we would come here and I would be able to have 200 games,” she shares.

For both women, these centenary games in Kelowna mark something richer in the life of a curler. As Jensen admits excitedly, it’s another chance. Another shot to be a part of curling for yet another game, another match, another championship. For Irene, it’s a family matter. It’s the link back to her beginnings. This is where it all started and so it only seems natural that this is where those 100th games are being played.

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By feature writer, Katie Maryschuk

All photos © WCF / Jeffrey Au