For 24 years, the curling rink has been a special place for both Madeleine and Denise Dupont.
The Denmark sisters are representing their homeland at the world women’s curling championship in Prince George.
(The team is off to a 4-2 start).
The 2022 edition of the tournament marks the 13th time both sisters have played on this stage.
Madeleine told MyPGNow.com, that longevity is something to cherish as an accomplishment like this isn’t very common in other countries.
“I think it is quite unique. I don’t think many people in many countries have this because the competition is a lot harder. In Canada, you don’t see someone representing their country for that long. So, I think we are very fortunate to have this chance.”
Malene Krause holds the all-time record for appearances in Danish history with 14.
“She is my former mother-in-law,” chuckled Madeleine. “If that is the record then I want to beat it by playing at least one or two more. I had no idea she had the record.”
Denmark is not considered a curling hotbed by any stretch, often taking a back seat to hockey, soccer, badminton, and handball.
Both sisters acknowledged the country doesn’t really get excited about curling until the Olympics.
“I am not going to say it’s non-existent because we are here but there are very few curlers. In total we only have about 700 curlers – we are talking juniors, seniors along with men’s and women’s. 50% of our curlers are seniors who play once or twice a week but the pool of elite curlers is very, very small,” added Madeleine.
“It only really exists every fourth year when the Olympics are on and then Denmark knows about women’s curling,” said Denise.
Denise, 37, who throws the second stones first appeared at the women’s worlds in 2003 when they were held in Winnipeg playing on a team skipped by Dorthe Holm.
“I think you learn a lot of calmness when playing with someone that experienced. She played in big tournaments like the Olympics before we did – she had a lot of spirit in the game that she passed along to us,” said Denise.
“It’s good to have that when you are younger because they can teach you so many things that you cannot just by watching. You have to experience that yourself and I think the good thing about being older is that you have all this experience and routine so nothing is ever new. It’s not that you are so nervous that it’s an extra end – eventually, it becomes normal,” added Madeleine.
Madeleine, on the other hand, cut her teeth a year later (2004) in Gavle, Sweden – going 3–6, all while skipping her own team, which included her older sister.
In 2007, both sisters collected a silver medal at the worlds in Amori, Japan where a team led by Angelina Jensen (skip) finished 9-5, losing the final game to BC’s Kelly Scott who represented Canada.
“That was very cool, still one of my favourite moments,” added Madeleine. “Fifteen years ago the game was so much more fun, less competitive, and more about having fun. Sometimes I miss those days where we would go to the patch almost every day but the way the game is going now is the right direction – but it was so much more fun when everyone was just friends.”
Two years later (2009), the Jensen rink went 10-4 in Gangneung, South Korea.
If that wasn’t enough, Denmark defeated arguably Canada’s best-ever female curler Jennifer Jones and her Winnipeg-based rink that included Dawn McEwen, Jill Officer, and Cathy Overton in the bronze medal game by a 7-6 score.
“I remember losing the semi-final to Annette Norberg where we had a shot to win the night before and I remember thinking we were never going to bounce back from this. We thought it was the toughest loss we were ever going to have and it’s going to be so tough to get back. But, I do think they (Jones) felt that way because they lost to China so they probably felt worse than we did.” said Madeleine.
“Sometimes in the bronze medal games it’s about who can forget what just happened and move on quickly – maybe we were just better at that,”
Last year in the Calgary bubble, the Danes skipped by Madeleine, posted an 8-6 mark falling 8-7 in the 4 vs 5 qualification game against the United States.
The lengthy tour around the world for both sisters has also included several trips to the Olympics.
Madeleine, competed for Denmark in 2010 (Vancouver), 2018 in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and most recently last month’s winter games in Beijing.
“It’s easy to forget and take for granted when people say at home ‘wow, that is incredible and we are like sometimes, well, is it? Lots of people play sports, lots of people are in win mode so when you are like that what you think about is the next thing you want to win whether it’s the next world championship or the European or Olympic championships,” said Madeleine.
Denise has been to four Olympic games, the last three with her younger sister. Her first sojourn at the winter games was in Torino, Italy in 2006 where she was the third for Dorthe Holm ending the round-robin with a 2-7 record.
“When you are in it like when we are playing, it’s a lot different from when we played in Calgary where we saw no fans and it’s so nice to hear people here. When we are throwing and a couple of people are saying go Denmark. One of the best things about these events is that people actually care about curling. No one is watching at home.” added Denise.
Both sisters come by the sport honestly as their father Kim competed at two World Junior Championships while brother Oliver won a silver medal at the 2016 World Men’s Championship in Switzerland.
Denmark’s only world women’s title came in 1982 won by Marianne Jorgenson in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Duponts hope its their rink that snaps the country’s 40-year drought.