From ice to office – why Marion Wüest gave up a career in curling and is enjoying it now even more as a hobby

Athletes Network is an organisation that supports professional athletes and helps them enter the world of work. Most people who pursue a career in sports dedicate themselves fully to that path. But the physical changes brought about by the ageing process put a time limit on sporting success. This means that it’s common for professional athletes to be looking to enter the world of work in their mid-30s or early 40s. Athletes Network is a platform designed to connect sportspeople to businesses. Allreal is fully supportive of this concept, providing Athletes Network with financial backing every year and having already welcomed multiple talented athletes and integrated them into the company. One of those professional sportspeople is Marion Wüest. The 21-year-old comes from a family of curlers. Both her parents played curling professionally and she has been curling herself since she was eight years old. She was part of the team that came fifth at the World Junior Curling Championships in Sweden in 2022. Just one year later, that team came fourth at the World Championships in Germany. Life as a professional athlete is tough. Marion used to train five or six times a week – on and off the ice. But she didn’t earn enough to make a proper living. Sponsors would only cover the costs of travel, entry fees, equipment and so on. So she trained as an administrative assistant alongside her curling and went on to study for a Federal Vocational Baccalaureate for two years after that. In 2023, Marion made the decision to leave her career as a top athlete behind and carry on with curling as a hobby instead.

Marion is now working in finance at Allreal. Her traineeship contract has just recently been replaced with a permanent employment contract. Marion told us more about the ups and downs of the exciting life of a professional athlete in our interview with her.

What do you love about curling?

I’m fascinated by the combination of precision, teamwork and strategy that curling requires. It’s a sport that might seem quite calm and maybe a bit boring at first glance. But you soon realise that it’s challenging and intense.
The players have to be incredibly precise to make sure the stone ends up in the right place. It only takes a minor misjudgement in the speed or the line to affect the result massively. Curling is also a sport that requires extremely tight teamwork. The four players in a team have to work in perfect harmony on the ice if they want to come top. The difference between winning and losing a match comes down to the whole team. The strategy is so important too. It’s not just a case of getting your own stone in the right place – you also have to estimate where your opponent’s stone will finish to keep the game going your way.

Your parents were professional curlers too. Is curling the main topic of conversation at your house?

Sure, we talk about curling a lot at home. The sport took up half my life until recently, so it would often come up in conversation at the dinner table. But now we’ve all retired from professional sport, we have more head space to talk about other things.
Like many curlers, half of my family plays golf too and we ended up chatting about it a lot this summer. But the whole family will be back on the ice once winter hits. And our whole world will revolve around curling again. I’m not bothered about golf myself, so I bring up other topics of conversation like work, friends and memories of the time we’ve spent together as a family.

What’s the biggest challenge with curling?

The hardest thing about curling is being able to maintain that level of concentration and precision for the whole game. Remember that one game can last two or even three hours. Even the slightest mistake or lapse in the strategy can have a huge impact on how the game goes.

What’s the most challenging aspect of playing a sport at professional level?

Professional athletes often have to make serious sacrifices. They must miss out on lots of social occasions and dedicate most of their time to training, competing and recovering. Professional athletes are also under constant pressure to compete at the highest level. Trainers, sponsors, associations and team-mates have such high expectations and push some sportspeople to their absolute limits.
Unfortunately, it’s not actually possible to make a decent living in most sports. That’s certainly the case with curling. This means you have to keep another career going alongside your sporting one.
Sure, there’s money in some sports. But the money only keeps coming in while you’re maintaining a certain level of success. Having to be successful constantly for financial reasons puts additional huge pressure on athletes. Just imagine literally not being able to afford to perform at anything less than your best. The risk of injury is always hanging over you when you’re a professional athlete too. The intensity puts extreme pressure on your body and your mind. Injuries can harm your physical and mental health, but also put your sporting career in jeopardy.

Do professional athletes from Athletes Network bring different skills and attributes to an office environment compared to a regular employee?

Yes, professional athletes have a long list of skills and attributes from their sporting career that make them stand out as a real asset in an office environment. Most of them are highly disciplined and have the tenacity to concentrate on long-term goals. Sportspeople also have the motivation to achieve their personal best. This helps them to pursue their professional goals in the office and ultimately drives them to be successful. I should also say that professional athletes are trained to manage stress. They’re used to working under pressure and staying calm in stressful situations so their performance doesn’t suffer.

Which skills from your life as a professional athlete do you draw on at Allreal?

Time and stress management.

You gave up your career as a professional athlete in summer 2023. Why?

I’m at the age when you have to make the transition from junior to elite level. That means the pressure increases, expectations get even higher and you need to spend more time training on and off the ice. It was all getting too much for me. I’d noticed that my focus was shifting more onto my personal life in the last few months. I’d been questioning the curling goals we were working towards and came to the conclusion that they didn’t match up with my own goals for the future.
When I completed my Federal Vocational Baccalaureate in the summer of 2023, I found myself facing a decision about my future career. I found the position at Allreal through Athletes Network and I love the fact that I can concentrate more on my work and my life now. I do want to keep my curling up as a hobby too.

What can you do now that you’ve given up your career as a professional athlete that you couldn’t do before?

I can make spontaneous plans for the weekend without having to worry about my training schedule. I have so much more time for myself and my friends and family. Plus, I can take holidays during the season now. And I get an actual break over the summer.