Calculating death risk makes actuary a gold-medal curler 

Olympic curler Anette Norberg says weighing the risk of death and disease for a Swedish insurance company gives her an advantage that may result in her second gold medal at the Winter Games this month.

"Curling is a bit like chess on ice," said Norberg, the captain of Sweden's four-member women's curling team and an actuary with Folksam, which insures half the people in her country. "It is about logical, strategic thinking, which you learn through this kind of work."

Norberg, 43, is the only member of her team who worked while training for the 21st Winter Olympics. The mother of two, who also assesses financial risk at her Stockholm-based firm, wouldn't have it any other way.

"I like my job and I have a hard time letting go of it," she said. "I need the mix of curling and work."

Norberg normally works full-time as department head of Folksam's Aktuarie Liv unit, though since October she's been taking two afternoons off each week to train. Actuaries calculate the risk of disease and death among different age groups, using statistical data to determine how much clients should pay for life insurance. The Swede, who lives just east of Stockholm in Saltsjoe-Boo, practices curling four to five times a week, and does physical training three times weekly.

In curling, teams slide 42.1-pound rocks down a 138-foot ice sheet, similar to shuffleboard. Curlers guide the rocks by brushing the ice with brooms.

Norberg started curling because her parents played in the Swedish coastal town of Haernoesand, a 267-mile drive north of Stockholm. Norberg said she enjoyed mathematics at school and studied the topic at Uppsala University near Stockholm. She fell into the insurance industry "much by chance" because it let her work with people and numbers.

On the ice, Norberg led the Swedish team to gold at the Olympics in Turin, Italy, in 2006, beating Switzerland in the final.

"Competition has increased a lot in the past four years, so it'll be much harder this time," Norberg said. "Our big challenge is to get to the finals -- there are 10 good teams and you have to be among the top four to get there."

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