BURLINGTON – Johanna Vuille-dit-Bille is 22 and new to Team Switzerland for 2012. Coach Rene Kammerer is hoping she’ll be a part of the team’s defence for years to come, though. Tall and a strong skater, she is even in plus-minus through three games so far in Burlington.
Later today she'll be playing in her first quarter-finals, against Russia. The winner goes to the semi-finals; the loser to the fifth-place game.
When did you start skating? Why?
I can’t remember when I started skating, but I started playing ice hockey in Basel in 1999 when I was 10, which is pretty late. My mother was a figure skater when she was young, so she took me and my sister to the rink and said I could also do speed skating if I wanted. But I saw a hockey practice and wanted to do that.
Who was your first hockey hero? Why?
I don’t think I really had one.
What was the name of your first team?
I played for a boys’ team in Basel called EHC Dragons. It was called a hockey school where you played with InLine equipment. I played for one year and was pretty bad. Then I played three years with the boys and didn’t get many shifts. Then I played with the girls and my coach gave me confidence and played me a lot.
What made you want to take hockey seriously enough to play for the national team?
When I look back, I sometimes don’t know why I stayed with hockey. The first four years were pretty tough. It wasn’t fun, and I was the worst player. When you’re a girl and the worst player on a boys’ team, it’s not fun. I didn’t want to be bad or to be “the loser” so I stuck with it and started to have fun with the girls.
Why do you wear number 22?
They just gave it to me. No reason.
Any pre-game superstitions?
Not really. I just do the same things in the warmup. I dress putting the left side on first.
What’s on your iPod?
I listen to house music, electro. My teammates don’t like it!
What do you remember about your first game with the national team?
I started by playing with the under-18 team for the first time. It was a cool feeling.
What’s your career highlight to date?
I have had a few season without highlights. Sometimes we’d make the playoffs but didn’t get to the semi-finals; sometimes we’d play for third place, and lost. I think the best thing was with the under-18 team and we qualified for the top division of the World Championship.
What’s your greatest strength and biggest weakness?
My biggest strength is to not give up, my will. I shouldn’t say what my weakness is!
Who on your team do you most admire? Why?
The Marty twins because they have been on the team forever. They started to play for the national team when they were really young, and they take it very seriously.
What do you want to do after your playing career?
I want to be a veterinarian. I love animals and want to be around them.
Finish this sentence. This will be a great tournament if…
…if we win two games in the first round and go to the quarter-finals, which is most important for us.