‘It was more a joke than anything else’

Manon and Klaudius Harsch in Gangneung © WCF / Stephen Fisher

The World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship 2023 is filled with family connections. These include the teams from Canada and Switzerland, who are married couples, and Team England, a father-daughter duo. These players have chosen to play the sport they love alongside the ones they love.

Another family duo is Klaudius and Manon Harsch from Germany. Both mother and son are curling in Gangneung this week, but in different events and for different countries.

Klaudius is competing in the mixed doubles championship representing Germany, while Manon is playing for England in the senior championship just down the street.

Klaudius Harsch © WCF / Eakin Howard

From the outside, the story seems simple.

“We both won the national championship, but she won it in England and I won it in Germany,” explains Klaudius.

But how exactly did Manon come to represent England? After all, she and Klaudius both live in Germany, in fact, Manon has never lived in England.

The answer: Manon’s father is English and her mother is German. Therefore, she is eligible to represent England based on her English nationality.

Taking it back

Manon’s English curling story began last season when Klaudius represented Germany at the World Mixed Doubles Championship in Geneva, Switzerland.

This event ran alongside the World Senior Championships. Manon attended the mixed doubles event to cheer on her son and made some friends along the way.

“There were all these English people sitting next to me in the café, and I was chatting away with them.”

Later on Manon started talking to a member of the English ladies’ team, Joan Reed. From there, she was in touch with the team.

Manon says, “At the banquet I just said ‘you know I’m English, I could still play for England’ but there was no real thought about it. It was more a joke than anything else.”

Following the event, one of the English players stepped away from the team. Manon then received a message asking if she would be interested in joining them.

The obvious obstacle was that Manon lives in Germany.

She explains, “I flew over [to England] five times the last season to get to know the team, practice and play some tournaments.”

Instant connection

The ladies connected early on with Manon saying, “We got along really well from the first minute.”

This led to some early success for the team in Gangneung, as they won two of their first three round-robin games.

Manon Harsch at the World Senior Championships 2023 © WCF / Eakin Howard
Manon Harsch at the World Senior Championships 2023 © WCF / Eakin Howard

Growing up, Klaudius was always coached by his mother. The first competition that Manon was able to watch as a mother rather than a coach was last year’s world championship in Geneva. And she was able to witness her son – and his teammate, Pia-Lisa Schoell – win a bronze, the first world medal for Germany in this discipline.

This year’s events stand out because she gets to play as well. When the schedule allows, Manon is inside the Gangneung Curling Centre cheering on her son, and Klaudius is supporting his mother in seniors’ venue, the Gangneung Hockey Centre.

Manon has embraced her special situation this week in Gangneung. On Sunday, she attended the senior men’s game between Germany and England. She proudly supported both teams, with a German flag draped over her body and English flags in her hair.

Manon Harsch supporting Germany and England
Manon Harsch supporting Germany and England

When asked if they’d ever thought of playing mixed doubles together, the duo laughed.

“Not competitively,” chuckled Klaudius.

But they are not the only members of the Harsch family with curling knowledge. Klaudius explains, “My brother and sister used to play curling, they don’t anymore, but they still kind of know how. Maybe at some point we can get us four playing as a mixed team.”

The Harschs are enjoying this unique experience with each other in Gangneung.

“It is very special,” says Manon.

Regardless of how the results go this week for their respective teams, Klaudius and Manon will be cheering each other on.

Written by Sports Media Trainee, Alison Umlah

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Gangneung, South Korea

26 April 2023
World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship 2023
World Senior Curling Championships 2023