• By: Katie Hartai

Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame Profile: Sandra Schmirler

2015 marks the Year of Sport and the 60th anniversary of Canadas Sports Hall of Fame. In recognition of these important milestones, OLM will be featuring Honoured Members of Canadas Sports Hall of Fame in a weekly profile piece.

Canadas Sports Hall of Fame aims to share the stories and achievements of its Honoured Members to inspire Canadians in all aspects of life.

Sandra Schmirler: Athlete, Curler 

Sandra Schmirler has accomplished achievements so amazing it is hard to be anything but proud of this Canadian. She won three Canadian Curling Championships, just as many World Curling Championships and a gold medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics. But Schmirler’s greatness goes far beyond her impressive athletic accomplishments. More than anything, she will be remembered for the continuous love and friendship she offered to all.

Recognized as the best woman’s curling team the world has ever seen, Sandra Schmirler, Jan Betker, Joan McCusker and Marcia Gudereit dominated the sport through the 1990s. The four motivated women put their individual talents together and created a force that became a legend in the world of curling. Schmirler was not just a teammate to these national heroines, she was also a best friend and soulmate—a down-to-earth captain who humbly lead them to victory.

They represented Canada at the Winter Olympic Games in 1998, where curling was officially contested for the first time since 1924. After their Gold medal win against a field of tough competitors, Schmirler shared the triumph with as many Canadians as she could. She brought her medal and Olympic team jacket to the annual rodeo in her hometown of Biggar, Saskatchewan for anyone to try on.

On top of Schmirler’s sheer talent and sportsmanship, she also provided Canadians with lessons about the value of life and how instantly it can be taken away. She put a lot of emphasis on the importance of prioritizing friends and family even before her cancer was tragically found. Schmirler was diagnosed at the age of 36 and passed away only months later.

“All Canadians have been touched by the untimely death of Sandra Schmirler,” former Prime Minister of Canada Jean Chrétien said in a statement. “Most of us came to know her through her exploits as a champion curler and as an exemplary sports ambassador for Canada. But what really set her apart was her bright, engaging personality and her incredible zest for life.”

Schmirler’s legacy lives on through the Sandra Schmirler Foundation, created in May 2001 by a group of her friends. The organization honours Schmirler’s love of family by raising funds to purchase life-saving equipment for babies born premature and critically ill.

Click here for more information about Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.