Sunday, February 15, 1998
Big golden relief for Schmirler
The feeling when it was over was probably more of relief than joy, the feeling Canada's Sandra Schmirler rink enjoyed early this morning after capturing the first women's gold medal in curling.
Relief, because they entered the Olympic bonspiel as prohibitive favorites and the favorite's yoke had not rested lightly on some Canadians' shoulders at these Games.
Freestyle skier Jean-Luc Brassard fell to it and the distraction, he said, of carrying the flag at the opening ceremony. Snowboarder Mark Fawcett wiped out. An injury did in figure skater Elvis Stojko.
Schmirler, of Biggar, Sask., and her rink of lead Marcia Gudereit of Hudson Bay, Sask., second Joan McCusker of Saltcoats, Sask., third Jan Betker of Regina and alternate Atina Ford of Gray, Sask., were winners in a no-win situation. Schmirler, a three-time world champion, scored a 7-5 win over the surprising Danish rink of Helena Blach Lavrsen, claiming Canada's third gold medal of the Games.
The feeling in the Kazakoshi Park Arena was one of the inevitable about to happen, especially after Schmirler scored three in the first.
The lone moment of tension for the Canadians came in the eighth end with Canada up 6-4. Schmirler rejected a double takeout that could have scored three, opting for a tap back for one. But her shot was heavy and her stone went long, making it look like the Danes has stolen one to make it 6-5.
But a measurement showed the Canadian stone was shot rock and Canada instead went into the ninth with a 7-4 lead.
McCusker sealed the win with a spectacular triple takeout in the ninth.
Despite the loss, the Danes could take pride in the fact they had claimed their country's first Olympic Winter Games medal.