Working 9 to 5World curlers' full-time gigs a revelation
By PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun
Look over here, you'll find a Swiss mechanic and part-time race driver. Over there, a Minnesotan who studied graphic design, but ended up designing pizzas, instead.
There are bank clerks and pharmacists, engineers and accountants, teachers, farmers, a car salesman -- curlers with occupations as varied as the countries they live in.
But of all the competitors at the World Curling Championships, Team Switzerland second Madlaina Breuleux probably gets the most interesting reaction when people find out what line of work she's in.
"You must be smart," Breuleux says, repeating the line she's heard so often. "That scares people off sometimes, when they hear what I do."
Breuleux, 31, is a molecular biologist. We kid you not.
Imagine the blank looks that'll produce in a bar on a Saturday night (note to self: discard pickup line, "I'm a sportswriter -- what do you do?").
Breuleux, though, insists she's not splitting atoms here.
"A lot of people say that they don't know what it means," she said. "I'm not smarter than anyone else. It's just my field of interest. Just because you don't see what you're working on ..."
Just before boarding a plane for the worlds, Breuleux handed in her thesis, completing nearly 10 years of studies and a doctorate degree at the University of Basel. There, she puts in 50 to 60 hours a week doing experiments and research at the women's hospital.
Her mission: help find a cure for cancer.
Kind of makes coming up with my next paragraph seem rather insignificant.
"I was always interested in human disease, and why they are," Breuleux explained. "But I didn't want to go and treat someone. I was always asking about cancer ... and what we can do against it."
While both her grandmothers died of cancer, that isn't the motivation for Breuleux's chosen field. She simply feels driven to research, and ultimately help defeat, the disease.
"It's really a high goal, with blue eyes, I would say," she said, using what must be the Swiss term for looking at something through rose-coloured glasses.
Breuleux says her analytical mind comes in handy on the ice, where the Swiss women are off to a 2-1 start.
If you carry that over to the men's side, then Team Switzerland should be putting the pedal to the metal any time now.
You see, second Pascal Sieber is a mechanic who'd love nothing better than to race some of the cars he works on, like the $150,000 Porsche he recently tuned up.
Sieber's hobby is racing. When he doesn't have a wrench in his hand, he's holding the steering wheel to his turbo-charged Fiat Punto, or his souped-up VW Golf, which he'll enter in local races, just like his father did when he was in his 20s.
"The Swiss, they want to have fast cars," Sieber, 25, said. "But it's expensive. That's my problem. And the time in the summer is too short."
So when it cools off, he takes up curling. Go figure.
That makes about as much sense as Pete Fenson's career path. Talk about doing a 180.
'A NATURAL MOVE'
The U.S. men's skip was well on his way to a job in graphic design, his major at Bemidji State University, when he caught the aroma of everybody's favourite pizza joint.
Today, Pete is the proud owner of Dave's Pizza in downtown Bemidji. Hey, with a 40-year tradition behind it, you don't mess with the name of the place.
"A natural move, isn't it?" Fenson said, chuckling.
Walk into Dave's and you'll see Fenson working the ovens, the cash register -- you name it. His specialty? The Italian meat lovers combo.
"It's our Big Mac, I guess."
Yes, it takes all kinds to make up a world championship. Continuing the burger analogy, this worlds has the works, you could say.
So the next time you're watching a game here, you might want to think twice before saying, "It doesn't take a molecular biologist to figure that shot out."
Because it just might.