Swiss skip Elena Stern and lead Lisa Gisler have hung up their curling brushes.
Stern, 26, announced her team’s breakup and her personal retirement on social media, posting that third Briar Hürlimann and second Céline Koller will be deciding on their curling futures.
“I am very grateful for all the experiences I made thanks to this sport—the highs and lows, success and defeat,” Stern posted on Instagram. “I learned about friendship, team spirit, fairness and pushing your limits. I got the chance to travel to many different places and meet great people all over the world. What remains are great memories and friendships that will accompany me beyond the sport.”
The Stern/Hürlimann partnership, in which Stern skipped while throwing third stones, was brief but brilliant. The squad currently ranks sixth in the World Curling Federation’s World Team Rankings System, one space ahead of arch-rival Silvana Tirinzoni, the two-time and defending world champions.
Team Stern broke through with a Grand Slam victory in 2018, and cashed an impressive amount of World Curling Tour event cheques over the next three years. Her team upset Tirinzoni to win the 2020 Swiss women’s title but missed the world championship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The foursome also captured the 2021 title, again beating Tirinzoni, and had to face them again in a best-of-four challenge series to determine the Swiss representative at the worlds. Stern and company fell short, losing all three matches to Tirinzoni, who went on the capture the 2021 world title.
“Now it is time for a new chapter in life and I am excited to see what it will be like without curling,” Stern wrote.
“Thank you to everyone who has been there with me during all those years—my family and friends, teachers and colleagues, coaches, teammates and sponsors. Without the support of all the great people I had and still have around me, none of it would have been possible.
“A special thanks goes out to my team. We look back on successful years and even though we didn’t reach all of our goals, I think we can be very proud of ourselves.”
A later post on the Team Stern page confirmed that Gisler, 27, has joined Stern in retirement, with both focussing on “professional and private goals.”
The statement went on to say Hürlimann “will continue to dedicate herself to the sport and pursue her goals with a new team” while Koller “is open about her future in curling and will take her time to find out what is best for her.”
Stern wore Swiss colours at multiple world curling events, winning gold at the 2012 Winter Youth Olympics and bronze at the 2015 World Juniors (as lead for Gisler). She also competed in two additional World Juniors and the 2016 and ’17 World Mixed.
Hürlimann’s younger sister Corrie currently skips a Swiss women’s team. That squad made the quarterfinals of the 2020 Women’s Masters in Basel, and also went 7-0 in seven fall challenge matches. One win came against Stern, and two victories were scored against a young men’s team.