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Marion Wüst, former curler, at Allreal
MARION WÜST, CURLING
From the ice to the office - how former athlete Marion Wüest reconciles curling and work
11 / 2023
Today we’d like to introduce you to Marion Wüest. The 21-year-old is from a family of curlers. Her parents were already professional curlers, and she has been curling since the age of eight. In 2022, she and her team finished 5th at the World Junior Curling Championships in Sweden. A year later, they came fourth at the world championships in Germany. The life of an athlete is difficult. She trains five or six times a week, both on and off the ice. Financially, she can’t really make a living from it. Sponsors or patrons only cover the costs involved, such as travel, entry fees and equipment. So, alongside curling, she did an apprenticeship as an office assistant, followed by a two-year vocational diploma. Today, Marion works in the finance department of our partner company Allreal. Her work experience contract has just been converted into a permanent contract. She tells us more about her turbulent and exciting life at the top of sport in this interview.
What fascinates you about curling?
What fascinates me about curling is the combination of precision, teamwork and strategy. It’s a sport that, at first glance, may seem quiet and boring, but on closer inspection you realise just how challenging and exciting it can be.
The precision with which players have to play the stone to position it exactly in the right place is impressive. A small error in speed or line can make a huge difference to the result. Curling is also a sport where teamwork is essential. All four players have to work together in a coordinated fashion on the ice to achieve the best results. You only win or lose a match as a team. Communication and team spirit are essential. Nor should we underestimate the importance of strategic thinking in curling. It’s not just a question of placing your own stone correctly, but also of evaluating your opponent’s stones in order to control the flow of the game.
Your parents were also professional curlers. Do you also talk about other things at home or just curling?
Of course, curling is a big topic of discussion at home. Until recently, it was also half of my life, which naturally gave rise to a lot of discussion at the family table. But in the meantime, we’ve all ‘retired’ from professional sport. There is now room for many other topics of conversation.
In the meantime, half the family, like many other curlers, play golf on the side, which has dominated the discussions this summer of 2023. In winter, however, the whole family will be back on the ice. The curling theme will then be unavoidable. As for me, I don’t have golf fever and I like to talk about everyday subjects like work, friends and shared experiences.
What do you think is the biggest challenge in curling?
In my opinion, the greatest challenge in curling is the ability to concentrate and be precise throughout a match. A match can last from two to three hours. This requires unwavering attention, as small errors in execution or strategic thinking can lead to big changes in the flow of the game. This long-term concentration and the ability to remain calm under pressure are essential for success in curling.
What do you think is the biggest challenge of playing sport professionally?
Professional sport often requires athletes to make considerable sacrifices. They have to give up many social activities and devote a large part of their time to training, competition and recovery. What’s more, professional sportspeople are under constant pressure to compete at the highest level. Expectations from coaches, sponsors, the federation and team-mates are high and push some athletes to their limits.
In some sports, and curling is unfortunately one of them, it is not possible to make a living from sport. So it’s important not to neglect your professional career in addition to your sporting career.
There are some sports that are financially profitable, but only as long as you’re always successful. And if you always have to succeed for financial reasons, that puts enormous extra pressure on sportspeople. You can’t afford to perform ‘badly’, in the true sense of the word.
Added to this is the risk of injury, which is omnipresent in professional sport. The frequency and intensity of sport places such high demands on the body and mind that the risk of injury is always high. Injuries can jeopardise not only physical and mental health, but also sporting careers.
Professional sportsmen and women must therefore be extremely careful and take good care of their health in order to avoid or at least minimise injuries.
Does an Athletes Network professional bring different qualities/skills to the office than a “normal” employee?
Yes, professional sportspeople can bring a range of qualities and skills from their sporting careers to the office that set them apart from the rest. Most are more disciplined than average and have the stamina to focus on long-term goals. Athletes are also motivated to achieve their personal best. This attitude also drives them to pursue their professional goals and aim for success in the office. Another trait worth mentioning in sportspeople is their ability to manage stress. Professional sportspeople are used to working under pressure and keeping a cool head in stressful situations in order to perform well.
What skills have you learned in professional sport that you bring to Allreal?
As we were often on the move and I was working and studying at the same time, a lot of organisation was required. Time management was an important point, which also helps me at Allreal to spread my work over a 75% occupancy rate. As there were times when my schedule wasn’t perfect during the season, I also had to learn to manage stress. Both at work and at school.
As in sport, there are certain pressure points at work that you have to know how to manage.
You’re retiring from competitive sport in the summer of 2023. Why did you do that?
The effort we had to put in to succeed was too much for me. I’m at the age where you move up from the juniors to the elite and, with that change, the pressure increases, so do the expectations and ultimately the effort on and off the ice. In winter especially, I noticed more and more that family and friends were often neglected, as we were regularly busy with tournaments at home and abroad.
I’ve also noticed that my focus has shifted more towards my private life in recent months. I questioned the goals we wanted to pursue as a team and came to the conclusion that these were not my goals for the future.
I’ve got my vocational baccalaureate in the summer of 2023, so I’m also faced with a career decision. Thanks to Athletes Network, I found a job that I could combine perfectly with my many winter trips. As I enjoy the work I can do at Allreal so much, I now want to concentrate more on work and my environment and take up curling as a leisure activity.
Now that you’ve stopped competitive sport, what can you do that you couldn’t before?
The biggest difference I’ve noticed so far is that I have a lot more time for my family, my friends and myself. I can plan my weekends spontaneously without having to think about the tournament calendar. It’s also possible to take holidays during the season. What’s more, my summer is now a real break. So far, we’ve resumed training on the ice from June/July.
What’s more, I’m currently working at 75% and from November 2023 I’ll be working at 100%, which would not be possible with a sporting career.