International Ice Hockey Federation

Schelling shining for Swiss

Schelling shining for Swiss

Four-time Olympian making history in Korea

Published 15.08.2018 16:17 GMT+11 | Author Lucas Aykroyd
Schelling shining for Swiss
Swiss goaltender Florence Schelling follows the puck during the game against Korea. Photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
To try to compete against Canada and the U.S. at the Olympics, you need a superstar in net. Fortunately for the Swiss, they have one in Florence Schelling.

Schelling was named Olympic MVP, Best Goalie and a tournament all-star after backstopping Switzerland to an historic bronze medal at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. The 28-year-old Zurich product, currently in her third season with Sweden’s Linkoping HC, is showing no ill effects from her knee surgery last April. In Korea, she owns a sparkling 0.50 GAA and 97.8 save percentage with two straight victories.

Of course, the biggest challenges are yet to come for the Best Goalie of the 2012 Women’s Worlds, like stopping Linkoping teammate Pernilla Winberg in Wednesday’s showdown with Sweden for top spot in Group B. But Schelling, a trilingual Northeastern University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, is accustomed to dealing with pressure. After all, she’s been playing hockey since she was four.

We caught up with this four-time Olympian after Switzerland’s 3-1 win over Japan on Monday.

You had an interesting sequence during an early Japanese power play where you were out challenging against Hanae Kubo, down on your knees, and you moved laterally five times to counter her. Do you enjoy that kind of one-on-one battle?

Sure! I obviously didn’t think about it too much at the time when I did it. I just felt like I had to attack her, kind of. I had no idea where my players were. I don’t know why she was standing there for that long, not having somebody from our team on her. But I just felt like the harder I attack her, the less chance she’s going to have to actually score.

What do you think of the way Sara Benz is shooting the puck with two goals against Japan?

Oh my God! Fantastic. She’s such a strong player. She’s a really smart player. Once she has the puck and she skates, she’s a dangerous player. I’m really happy for her, the way she plays, especially after being out for so long. Really happy for her.

You’re making history in this tournament. You’re now tied with Canada’s Kim St-Pierre for the most wins in Olympic history with eight. With your 8-0 shutout against Korea, you also tied Kim’s record for the most Olympic shutouts with four. What does that mean to you?

I didn’t know that! [laughs!] Obviously, it’s great, but I’m not here to break any records. I’m here to be with the Swiss team, and then make history with the Swiss team.

How well do you know Kim?

I was lucky enough, actually, to meet her when I was living in Montreal. I got to practise with her a couple of times, and got to know her as a person as well. She’s a great player on and off the ice. I always enjoyed it when I was playing against her. She’s like somebody to look up to.

Out of all your shutouts, the biggest one was the 2-0 win over host Russia in the 2014 quarter-finals. You made 41 saves. What do you remember about it?

I don’t remember it! [laughs] It’s just very difficult to think about it right now. I do remember that within the first five minutes of the game, they had a shot off the post and it didn’t go in. I think that was the game-changer back then. We knew the luck was on our side during that game.

Speaking of the number 41, why do you wear 41?

I was going to write that in my blog. That was my blog post for tomorrow!

Can you share the secret?

If I do, then nobody’s going to read my blog anymore! [laughs]

Is it Jaroslav Halak? Mike Smith? Something else?

Oh, it’s something totally different. It has something to do with the Olympics, though.

Well, we’ll have to check out in that case. Who are the goalies you admire most?

Every single goalie, basically. I don’t have a special idol that I look up to. I love watching goalies, men and women, no matter what league they play in, and I just enjoy watching them and seeing what they’re doing and kind of trying some stuff for myself. I take it to practice and try it. If I like it, I try to adapt it to my game. If I don’t like it, then that’s it. But I love watching goalies.

Your teammate Alina Muller, who leads the Olympics with five goals, is going to Northeastern next year. Have you given her some advice about your old school in Boston?

Yeah. I obviously spent five years there. It was five fantastic years for me, and I have given her some advice. But when it gets closer to her actually moving there, I think we’ll have a chat about it a bit more in-depth.

You’re studying for your master’s degree in business administration in Linkoping. What do you see yourself doing with it?

I don’t know. I’m pretty open for everything after that. I’m going to graduate in June, and it was my goal not to think about what I’m going to do afterwards until after the Olympics. I’m going to keep it that way! [laughs]

Finally, what do you think Switzerland needs to do to get another medal here in Korea?

We said in the team that we’re taking it game by game. Two days ago, we focused on Korea. Today we focused on Japan. And now it’s all about focusing on Sweden in the next game. Then we’ll go from there.


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