It was 22 years since her last sip of victory wine but 45-year-old Andrea Schoepp, whose middle name must be Perseverance, completed an amazing return to the Ford World women’s curling throne room Sunday afternoon.
Schoepp, who became the oldest skip in history to win the title, directed traffic in a thrilling 8-6 extra-end victory over 19-year-old Eve Muirhead of Scotland in the championship final.
Muirhead was bidding to become the youngest skip in the history of the event to win the global crown.
But, at the end of a see-saw battle during which the Germans led five times and the Scots led twice, Schoepp was faced with a three-quarter-open takeout for the win after Muirhead’s final guard attempt over-curled.
“It’s been a long, difficult time finding the right team but I think this was the right team,” said Schoepp, who skipped third Melanie Robillard, second Monika Wagner and 17-year-old lead Stella Heiss, the youngest player in history to win the title.
“The feeling is just great. I thought that as long as we could keep it up, like tied, we’d have a good chance at the end because in the late ends I think the nerves come into play. Getting close to the end makes you feel different. It’s a different feeling than you have at the beginning of the game.”
Schoepp scoffed at a suggestion she wouldn’t return for more cracks at the title.
“Of course I thought we’d win this eventually,” she said, “and now I will think we can do it again. That’s the next goal. Maybe we can win this again in 22 years. Do you think would be a record?”
What of an upcoming celebration?
“I’ll have a glass of champagne now,” she said, “and then I will take a shower, and then maybe I’ll have a talk with (three-time champion) Jan Betker and see if I can join her club in 20 years.”
She said winning the title any year is a tough proposition. “Eleven of these teams are so close,” she said. “I think the lineup in the upcoming years always will be a different one.”
Schoepp termed Muirhead “a really great player, I think. She’s the future, like the Swedish team will be.”
Muirhead was composed following the closing ceremonies.
“We’re definitely disappointed,” she said. “They played a fantastic game out there and Andrea’s on-form and you can’t doubt that. We gave them a good run. It’s gutting that it ended like that. We’ve still got a silver medal and we’ll cherish that but we went out there to win the game and it didn’t happen.
“I can’t be too hard on myself. I’ve hopefully got a long way to go. There’s so much I can take out of it, especially being at a Worlds in Canada. The atmosphere has been phenomenal.”
Schoepp executed a hit in the four-foot for an opening single but the Scots took a deuce in the second when Muirhead scored an easy double-kill.
In the third, a roll behind cover set up a deuce for Schoepp and the go-ahead point. Muirhead drew the four-foot cold in the fourth looking at three enemy counters.
Germany settled for a go-ahead single in the fifth after Schoepp wrecked with her last stone, attempting a tight pass and a takeout for two. Then the Scots rung up a pair in the sixth when Muirhead executed a double using one of her own stones to get to the German counter.
Schoepp was forced to hit for the tying point against two in the seventh. Scottish third Kelly Wood connected on a raise-double and Scotland was sitting four but Schoepp killed three of them with her first stone.
In the eighth, Schoepp rolled out on her last, leaving the Scottish skip a hard double-kill with a guard in play. But Muirhead hit only one and left the other standing up for a German theft.
Muirhead elected to blank the ninth following a wide-open ninth exchange but needed a perfectly lined-up triple-raise takeout with her last rock of the 10th to score the tying point after her first rock caught debris and wound up killing her own hidden counter.
Schoepp attempted a guard with her last but inadvertently left the front rocks in a straight line for Muirhead’s last hit.
In overtime, Scotland managed to maintain cover and sock one in the four-foot but Muirhead left the counter vulnerable to Schoepp’s final stone.
“We had a really good game and the girls have done a magical job this week,” said Schoepp. “I had a good feeling coming here, we were feeling well and it worked out.
“We has some troubles keeping a team together last two years but with Monika playing at second, she’s perfect at second, I’ve never had a better second than the way she’s playing now, and I think she really made the shot for winning the game in the extra end.”
Wagner shot a game-high 84 per cent. Schoepp moved Robillard up to third and dropped Wagner to second this season.
“It has worked out well. She (Monika, who also is 45) does not have to sweep four rocks before she is playing. She’s not under such pressure playing second and it is, for her, the perfect job.
“I think that this is the payoff for everything I have put into the sport. Bringing new players up, getting young people up, and working on myself, go-go-go, and you just have to be patient and everything will be paid back in time.”
An avid bike-rider, Schoepp took the daily 90-minute pedal prior to the game.
“Ninety minutes in a wind that was like a storm,” she said with a grin. “But that was OK, against the wind, and against the Scots.”
Canada’s Jennifer Jones salvaged a bronze medal earlier Sunday, defeating 22-year-old Cecilia Ostlund and her young Swedish team from Karlstad, 9-6.
The medal was the second in four world championships for the Canadian unit from Winnipeg — third Cathy Overton-Clapham, second Jill Officer, lead Dawn Askin.
Jones won the gold medal in the 2008 renewal at Vernon, B.C. She had lost bronze medals in 2005 and 2009.
“It’s a nice way to finish off the week,” said the 35-year-old Canadian skip. Attendance total for the championship played at the Credit Union iplex was 52,305.