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  • canada sked medal results SLAM!  NAGANO

    Monday, February 16, 1998

    Tears flow in golden glow

    By CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun
      KARUIZAWA -- The emotions, which seemed to have been sapped in their tight semi-final, finally bubbled to the surface as they mounted the podium.
     The Sandra Schmirler rink from Regina cried and sang O Canada wearing their gold medals, the tears welling up in the eyes of Schmirler and lead Marcia Gudereit, streaming down the face of third Jan Betker.
     Their 7-5 win yesterday over the surprising Danish rink of Helena Blach Lavrsen, claiming the first women's gold medal in curling, was a job that was well done no doubt, but a job none the less.
     The feeling was more so of relief than joy.
     Relief, because the Canadians entered the Olympic bonspiel as prohibitive favorites. Some said this women's gold would be the easiest gold medal ever won at the Olympics and that in itself brought its own pressure.
     "You always want to live up to your personal expectations. We could play our best and if we didn't win, it didn't matter," said Schmirler, whose rink barely got past Great Britain in extra ends in the semis.
     "We knew if we played our best, we would win," said second Joan McCusker, whose key triple take out in the ninth sealed the gold. "We just tried not to think about the outcome of each shot, tried to put it out of our brains that the outcome of the shot means the title.
     "Before I came here, I spent a lot of time talking at schools and I would say to the kids, 'Name an emotion, any emotion, and I'm feeling it.'
     "This is the only time in your life you can say that. When you win, you feel elation and gratification and underneath it all there's relief, a feeling of 'Thank God, the weight is off.'
     "We put a lot of pressure on ourselves, there was pressure on us from the media and from family."
     There were tears afterward and a mini-wave when the four of them lined up, bowed at the waist and saluted the small, polite crowd.
     They were winners in a no-win situation, adding a touch of gold glitter to an already sparkling trophy case.
     "We're really close friends," said Schmirler, the three-time world champion.
     "It's almost a sister relationship. To be able to play with your best friends is almost the best feeling on Earth," she said.