May 09, 2012 • By

A career on and off the ice

Family. Work. Curling. Allison Pottinger says flexibility is key to making it all jive.

Allison, a mom of two and Consumer Insights manager at General Mills, recently competed for the U.S. in the World Curling Championship in Lethbridge, Canada.

“We lost a tiebreaker at the World Championship this year, so we fell a little bit short of our goal,” Allison says, “but I think, as a team, we felt okay about it. Now, we take essentially a few months off, regroup and start again.”

Allison looks at her curling career in four-year chunks that ideally end at the Winter Olympics. Right now, she’s smack dab in the middle of one of those chunks. Her team earned a spot at the World Championship by winning Nationals in February. That win also qualified her team for a spot in the U.S. Olympic Trials in November 2013.

“Now, we’ve just got to prepare ourselves for November 2013 so we’re ready to go. They’ll only take one women’s team and one men’s team. Whoever wins is it. There’s no picking of teams, there’s no second chance-type thing.”

Competing at a high level is nothing new to Allison, she competed in the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. She’s one of the most accomplished curlers in U.S. history and she’s done it while also building a career with us.

She says participating in last month’s World Championship not only was great practice but also great fun.

“It was on television, we wore microphones for every game. When you play teams like Sweden and Switzerland, Eurosport covers the action – which is kind of like ESPN for Europe. My aunts and uncles in Scotland got to see the game when we played Scotland,” Allison explains. “And you get big crowds – a couple thousand people come and watch. The arena is full, people do the wave. It makes it lots of fun.”

Playing skip, Allison is responsible for leading the team and giving it strategic direction. She has to anticipate what she thinks the other team is going to do and determine the best spot for her team to place its rock. She says curling is a nice combo of individual work and team effort.

“No one can control how I let go of the stone and that kind of stuff, so there is a lot of onus on the individual, but you have to work as a team to complete the shot. I think I like that balance between the two.”

Allison’s husband also is a curler. She says they’ll be on the ice five or six days a week when the season starts again in a few months. They’ll also travel every other weekend beginning in September. As you may have guessed, they usually don’t have to pack beach towels or flip flops.

“Curling is definitely cutting into vacations in the Bahamas and stuff like that, that’s for sure! We go to Fargo and places like that instead!”