The Russian women's curling team clinched gold at the European Championships earlier this month. RT caught up with the man behind their success - the new trainer is Swiss coach Thomas Lips.
The disappointment of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics seems a long way away for Russia's women curlers. Their victory at the European Championships has given them renewed confidence as they beat the reigning Olympic gold medalists Sweden en route to victory.
The team’s skip Anna Sidorova has gained a lot of headlines for her performance. However, head coach Thomas Lips has also played a big part in getting this team to realize their potential.
“At the beginning they had to learn from my side what a game should be. But also I had to learn what kind of people these girls are. We spoke a lot together and I think we found a way how to work together. The main point was the confidence in each other,” the Zurich-born coach says.
The victory at the European Championships, while very important, is a warm-up for the 2014 Sochi Olympics. The win will only heighten expectations that Russia can a first Olympic curling medal. However, Lips doesn't feel any extra pressure.
“Pressure is the wrong word, because it means that one would be afraid to execute,” he notes, adding that even if the girls don’t win any medals but finish fourth it will be regarded as progress.
Curling is continuing to gain in popularity within Russia with new rinks popping up around the country. While the men's team aren't at the same level as the women things could change with continued investment. The new generation already have plans to compete at the highest level.
Meanwhile, the next test for the senior squad will be the 2013 World Championships in Riga in March, where they will look to build on their success at the European's. The future is looking very bright as curling goes from strength to strength in Russia.