Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Schmirler curling legend lives on

The Fed – the World Curling Federation – has just announced that Sandra Schmirler is the posthumous winner of the 2009 World Curling Freytag Award.

The award is given in two categories – Curler and Curler/Builder – and Schmirler, the three-time world champion and 1998 Olympic champion who died in 2000 at age 36 – is the first Canadian competitor to be inducted since Ernie Richardson, who received his award just days after Schmirler’s death that year, at the Brier in Saskatoon.

What is very cool, apart from the continued recognition of the Schmirler legacy (which of course includes the Foundation named after her) is that immediate surviving family members Shannon England – her husband – and daughters Sara and Jenna will receive Schmirler’s award at the 2009 Ford Worlds in Moncton.

Moncton just happens to be the 50th anniversary bash celebrating the world men’s championships, and a whack of famous names are being jetted in for the opening weekend, which will climax with a rather remarkable opening ceremony.

It says here that this event is not one to miss.

Have you ever thought about a present day with Sandra Schmirler still with us? What would the curling world look like if, in fact, she hadn’t passed away so tragically at such a young age?

Would she still be the best women’s curler of all time?

Would Colleen Jones have won fewer Scotties and World titles?

Would some of her teammates moved on, and tried their hand without her? According to the eulogy delivered by Brian McCusker, the husband of second rocker Joan McCusker, the asnwer is no way... the team would still be competing together “50 years from now.”

But who can say? Perhaps Schmirler would now be leading a team of young guns, as so many veteran skips seem to do these days.

Would she be the female TV commentator at CBC or TSN, as opposed to teammate McCusker? Remember, Schmirler had already appeared on CBC a few times prior to her death and was generally acknowledged to be, well, pretty good with a microphone.

There would have been books, no doubt (here and here) but would there be a park named after her in Biggar, Saskatchewan? Would there exist any of the not one but two TV documentaries? Would the official plaudits and awards be just starting to trickle in now, as she approached age 45?

One thing is certain. Schmirler’s nomination and confirmation for this award comes at a good time. And it will be simply tremendous to see her family – with the daughters now aged 11 and 9 – accept the award at the 50th anniversary Worlds.

“Back in Regina there are tons of good teams and I don’t know why we’ve been chosen to do this... And to play with your best friends is probably the best feeling in the world.”
– Sandra Schmirler, Maclean’s, February 23 1998


• Here’s another look at Joan McCusker’s 10-year anniversary blogpost on Nagano and the Schmirler curling memories, published almost a year ago ...

• As for ex-teammates Jan Betker and Marcia Gudereit, they made a surprising early exit from playdowns last weekend ...

• Another big women’s name to fall out of Scotties contention is 2007 world champion Kelly Scott of Kelowna, who has been eliminated prior to the B.C. provincial ...

• Women of Curling calendar girl Christine Keshen – with her very nice hat – is starting a junior program at her home club in Invermere. Now that’s giving back to the sport! Congrats to Kesh on her recent engagement, too ...

• Speaking of the calendar, it got a write-up and cover-paste on Rod Pedersen’s popular sports blog ...

• Curling got grazed by a couple of goombahs over the holidays. First came this Simple One who claims to be now “scarred for life” by curling, and then came Sportbilly24 and his declaration that curling “has gained a strong ding as one of the weirdest sports using a household appliance”. How original ...

• Here’s a look at the up-and-down season of Sherry Middaugh ...

• And finally, CBC curling host Scott Russell ranks Brad Gushue at no. 3 on his list of young Canadian athletes to watch in 2009 ...

No comments: