Dryburgh on final heartbreak, curling parents and Hasselborg inspiration

Moa Dryburgh at the World Junior Curling Championships 2023 © WCF / Alina Pavlyuchik

Moa Dryburgh was only 16 years old when she skipped Sweden to the World Junior Curling Championship final on home ice in Jonkoping just under a year ago.

It was her maiden appearance at an international curling event. Dryburgh’s rink scraped through to play-offs by having a more favourable Draw Shot Challenge over Switzerland. In the final, her team fell short of capturing gold, going down 7-4 to Japan.

The pain of Jonkoping is something that has pushed the Swedish youngster ever since they stood off the podium. Rather than dwell on their loss, Dryburgh and her teammates — lead Moa Nilsson, Moa Tjaernlund and Thea Orefjord — took comfort in knowing they belonged on the elite stage.

“It was amazing to get to the final in the first place,” reminisces Dryburgh.

“After our last round-robin game, we didn’t even know that we had a chance to qualify. We played two really good games at the end of the round-robin and did amazingly in the semi-final.

“Of course, losing the final was never fun but to have our family and friends there with us was a special moment. Instantly it gave us more energy to push towards the next year. It was a big boost — but also reminded us to work harder.

“We were the youngest team in Jonkoping. There’s lots of good players and teams at these championships and we knew from that experience that we could beat them. We took our journey to the final as a confidence boost.”

Moa Dryburgh at the World Junior Curling Championships 2022 in Jonkoping @ WCF / Cheyenne Boone

Moa’s father, James, was twice a world junior champion and won a bronze medal at the European Curling Championships 1997 in Fuessen, Germany, representing Scotland.

This year, the town hosts the World Junior Curling Championships 2023 where Moa is attempting to go one better and emulate her father’s achievement.

Her mother, Margaretha, won six elite-level international medals as an alternate in Elisabet Gustafson’s team, including a bronze medal at the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano. So, it might appear the younger Dryburgh’s journey into the world of curling was straightforward — but not according to Moa herself.

“Myself and my second Moa Tjaernlund played football together growing up for ten years. We got to an age where we had to either focus on curling or football so we could maximise our potential. It turned out we loved curling more,” she says. “And we were much better at curling so that part was the easy decision.”

“Growing up with two curling parents was a bit different from most people. I loved growing up with my parents and always going to the rink. We would talk about curling at every dinner. It can sometimes get too much as they both want to give me input about our games, as well as my technique and communication, but it’s a lot of fun and we get to share it all together.”

While Dryburgh does not have to look further than her dining room table for inspiration, it is a similar story at her curling club. The Stockholm-born skip shares Sundbybergs Curling Club with Olympic gold medallists in Team Anna Hasselborg and 2017 world junior champions Team Isabella Wraana.

A week before the World Junior Curling Championships got underway, Dryburgh and co played a practice game against Team Hasselborg — a rink which helped shape a budding 12-year-old curler’s ambitions.

Team Sweden at the World Junior Curling Championships 2023 in Fuessen © WCF / Alina Pavlyuchik

“We really look up to both the teams. It’s incredible having them supporting and helping us but also fighting against us so we can really improve,” adds Dryburgh.

“I remember watching Sweden win gold in 2018 and I started crying. Me and my family were up in the middle of the night and it was just so cool. It was at that moment where I said to myself ‘I really need to do this and want to be the best’ — and that feeling is still there and motivates me to this day.”

A year of hard work since winning a silver medal in Jonkoping has provided a strong base for Dryburgh and her team to build a successful junior career. Once again, this week they are the youngest rink in the women’s competition.

The likes of Eve Muirhead’s four world junior gold medals act as further inspiration for the Swede but Dryburgh says the team “will be a work in progress for a long time”.

“We’re not just focused on winning but generally around the process. We know that building from good ends and good games comes from teamwork and communication — which is really important for us,” explains Dryburgh.

“When we execute these things, it usually results in wins. That’s the most important part for our team. We want to keep improving as a team and know that we don’t have to reach our full potential now. Every day we want to get better — that’s our plan.”

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Fuessen, Germany

1 March 2023
World Junior Curling Championships 2023