Füssen Junior Camp 2018: The Alumni

  • Carlo Glasbergen at the World Men's Curling Championship © WCF / Richard Gray

Looking at the alumni of any institution is a great way of determining the success of the said institution. Any university will proudly showcase a former student who went on to be famous because it’s an example of grand success.

The WCF / DCV Hummelt Junior Curling Camp, held annually in Füssen, Germany, is another fine example of success through learning and has taught a whole generation of curlers who have since matured and competed at Olympic Winter Games and World Curling Championships.

Unfortunately, no official records were kept of the campers – something that many at the camp regret not doing from the start – yet word of mouth has been a useful tool to catalogue those who were there as teenagers.

Even with limited knowledge, there have been many success stories from a pool of five people’s recollections including World Mixed Curling champion, Sander Roelvaag (Norway), and mixed curling medallists Joakim Flyg (Sweden), Katie Murray and Bobby Lammie (both Scotland). Not only that, but one of Scotland’s most successful female teams have been there too in the form of Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams and Lauren Gray.

Lauren [pictured above: photo © WCF / Richard Gray] is the newest member of Eve Muirhead’s rink after spending many years as the alternate for the team. A double world medallist – one being a gold in 2013 – as well as an Olympic bronze medal winner. Like Anna and Vicki, Lauren won the Scottish Under-17s event which earned her a place at the camp along with her teammates, a tradition that continues today.

There, she met the aforementioned Roelvaag as well as world silver medallist, Oliver Dupont, the younger brother of the famous Danish Dupont sisters (Madeleine and Denise); and United States’ national skip Jamie Sinclair.

It may have been a while back, but it had an effect on her future career in the sport, “I look back on my time at the camp with very fond memories,” said Lauren, “Having had such an incredible time there, I would say it was a factor in shaping my passion for curling.”

“I learned so much about curling, made a lot of international friends who I’m still in touch with today, and tried new activities like mini golf and outdoor tobogganing.”

Lauren is not the only one to take so much away from their experience at Füssen. While she won a space at the camp, Shari Leibbrandt’s Dutch junior squad had no option but to go, as part of Shari’s development programme for her younger curlers. Not that any of her athletes complained.
Carlo Glasbergen [pictured above: photo © WCF / Steve Seixeiro], lead for the promising Dutch national team which qualified for the Netherland’s first world championships since 1994 in 2017, attended the camp from 2008 to 2011, later coming back to coach for three years between 2013 and 2015. Racking up attendance at over a third of the camps since its inception, Carlo has fond memories of his times as a junior, “My first experience at the camp was awesome,” he said, “As a young junior I learned a great deal. It was a real stimulant to train hard and keep learning the game.”

The popularity of the camp has never been questioned. Despite a database of curlers with some holes in it, co-founder Keith Wendorf recollected that at one World Junior Curling Championships, at least three-quarters of the kids had their hand raised when asked if they had attended Füssen. It really is the go-to camp for development as Carlo suggested, “most of the European curlers have come through Füssen at some point”.

So, where do they lie on its importance in the curling community? Lauren sees it as a great way to build friendships in the sport from an early age, “It connects younger curlers from different countries at a young age in a non-competitive and fun environment.”

“Those friendships can be a factor for people continuing to compete in the sport when adult responsibilities can take over in later years,” she said.

“It’s something that so many junior curlers are looking forward to every year,” said Carlo, “Especially those from smaller curling nations that wouldn’t otherwise get the coaching. They greatly benefit from top coaches willing to share and give back for their love of the sport.”

Carlo himself has been one of the benefiters of that, thanks to the work of Bill Tschirhart, former National Training Centre Coach for Canada who he accredits to helping him learn more about the game, “He had a great perspective on the game from a psychological view,” he said, “That was an inspiring experience for me in my development as a player.”

Both Lauren and Carlo returned to coach groups in 2013 and can take away a lot from their experiences. Although preferring her time as a camper, Lauren enjoyed leading a group and passing on knowledge that she had learned.

Carlo also enjoyed contributing to future curling generations, “There’s a lot that you learn during the camp that you take away as a camper, but probably even more so as an instructor,” he said, “To later see the curlers play on tour and knowing that you contributed to their success and motivation to play the game is awesome.”

As both instructors and campers, both Lauren and Carlo have seen the benefits of the camp. As elite curlers in the present day, it set them up well to integrate with people from different countries and help them learn more about the sport from coaches with their own ideas. It has certainly left an impact on the current batch of top players.

“It seems to have been a rite of passage for many of our elite curlers today,” said Lauren, “It demonstrates the camp’s prestige that many of our current elite curlers have been involved with it in a camper or coaching capacity.”

You can follow the junior camp and the World Curling Federation on Twitter, Instagram (@worldcurling) and Facebook (/WorldCurlingFederation) and by searching the hashtags: #curling #wcfcamps

Written by feature writer: Michael Houston