When she was growing up, Sandra Schmirler wanted to play hockey. But there was no girls’ team in Biggar, Saskatchewan. So instead of a hockey stick, she picked up a broom. And instead of a puck, she took aim with a 40-lb. stone. Her dream was to “wear the green” of the Saskatchewan provincial team. She went much farther. All the way to the top of the podium at the Olympics. Then it ended, too soon, with her untimely death. Life & Times of Sandra Schmirler is the portrait of an athlete, and a woman, whose family and friends were as important as winning the gold.
Life & Times of Sandra Schmirler traces her life from childhood through her painful divorce, second marriage and motherhood, realized Olympic dreams, and her battle with cancer. Success in curling didn’t always come easily – she and her teammates went through a very difficult time in 1995, when she lost focus, confidence, and felt terrible pressure from the media. The documentary features a never before seen interview with Schmirler, and candid comments from teammates, family and friends.
Sandra Schmirler with teammate Jan Betker
Schmirler’s team defined the sport of women’s curling for most of the 1990s and was also the first ever to win a gold medal in curling in Canada. Between 1991 and 1997, Schmirler skipped her Regina team to three Canadian and World titles – something that had never been done before. She topped that off by leading her team to the first-ever Olympic gold medal in women’s curling in the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan. Schmirler hauntingly stated in a pre-Nagano Olympic Games interview with CBC-TV Sports: “I believe I’ve got it all…I’ve got everything I could possibly want in life right now. I have a daughter that I cherish. A husband that I love dearly and the sport of curling that has given me so much. I’ve got it all. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Sandra Schmirler in action at the ’94 worlds
Schmirler didn’t know it then, but in just a couple of years, she was going to face the greatest challenge of her life – cancer. Just six months after her father passed away from cancer, and after the birth of her second child, she herself was diagnosed with cancer and died in March 2000. Schmirler’s devotion to family lives on in the charitable foundation set up in her memory. So far it has raised 100,000 for children who face life-threatening illnesses.
Original Air Date – January 22, 2002
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Recommended Greatest Curler by Bette, December 26, 2005
I would like to vote for Sandra Schmirler for the greatest curler of all time! She was the skip of Canada’s first Olympic Gold Medallist Curling team and also won 3 Canadian and World Championships. Her death at the young age of 36 was sad and tragic. She was truly a great Canadian! Please help keep her memory alive by supporting The Sandra Schmirler Foundation, a non-profit organization whose mission is to help families with children challenged by life threatening illnesses!