Schoepp Around

Andrea Schoepp doesn’t have the use of a bicycle during the Continental Cup at the Servus Credit Union Place this week. If she did, the current world women’s curling champion skip claims she’s be riding from the hotel to the arena and back every day, and never mind the minus-20 temperatures or the ice-bound streets. “Oh yes,” she was saying this week, “you don’t have it cold here. This is great weather. Definitely not too cold for biking.” Eh? “Actually,” she was saying, “I wish they would stage this event a little earlier in the season. This is the best ski time back home (in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany).” Fact of the matter is, the dates for this Continental Cup were set back to January primarily because they conflicted with the Euro championships in December. But Schoepp would have preferred the changes be made in other direction . . . like November.

Andrea Schoepp and Team World sweep at the 2011 WFG Continental Cup

The 45-year-old veteran of 17 world championship assaults (she’s won twice) arranged for the use of a bike last March at Swift Current during the Worlds and not only rode to the rink from the hotel every day, but 10 to 15 miles up the road to Saskatoon and back, too. Exercising is just part of life for this mathematics and statistics teacher. She doesn’t know what she’d do without the constant movement. You want an example? She was scheduled to fly here this week from Germany but booked a later-in-the-day flight because — wait for it — she wanted to squeeze in two or three more ski runs before boarding the jetliner. “You have to understand,” she says, “that skiing is what I love the most. My trouble is, I’m not talented enough.” Curling isn’t far behind on the Schoepp popularity meter. “Sure, it was a great feeling to win,” she recalled of last year’s success at Speedy Creek. “It’s the best feeling you can have. But winning the Worlds is really difficult. “It makes no difference, really, whether you win or lose when you’re as dedicated to the sport as I am.” Strangely, Schoepp’s lineup at the Worlds was a swan-song deal. Vice-skip Melanie Robillard had announced prior to the Worlds that she was leaving the team at season’s end to join her fiancee in Spain. “We knew the team would change,” Schoepp says. “But we have replaced Melanie with a new third player — Imogen Lehmann — who may be even better than Melanie. “She is younger and she can practise a lot and she is living in Switzerland. She has a German mother and a Swiss father so she has both passports. And she already has played the Euro mixed championship with us.” Lehmann is a year out of junior, which makes her a perfect fit with Corinna Scholz, 21, and Stella Heiss, 18, on the front end. “She played third for Switzerland in the Junior Worlds last year and finished fourth,” says Schoepp. A fifth alternative in this lineup is veteran Monika Wagner, who has played with Schoepp for two decades but lives in Munich and is unable to take a lot of time off her job as an executive secretary to curl. “So far, the team has been me and the three young ones,” says Schoepp. “We were really successful and have had a really good time. But having Monika play is good, too. The problem is she has not so much time to practise. When you’re 45 you require more practice than when you’re 20 or 30.” Lehmann isn’t here with the German team which was chosen based on last year’s victory. Then, again, Robillard is missing, too. “I’m used to this,” says Schoepp, who has put together more revamped lineups than she can remember. “But, you know, I will not quit before my body says ‘No.’ ”