Sandra Schmirler Biography
Born: June 11, 1963, in Biggar, Saskatchewan, Canada
Full name: Sandra Marie Schmirler (Peterson)
Nickname(s): Schmirler the Curler
Height: 6-0 (184 cm)
Weight: 159 lbs (72 kg)
Birthplace: Biggar, Saskatchewan
Home Province: Saskatchewan
Games: Nagano 1998
Country: CAN Canada
Died: March 2, 2000 (Aged 36.265) in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
Affiliations: RCCC, Perth (GBR)
Sandra Schmirler and her curling rink (team) won the hearts of many Canadians and raised the profile of women’s curling at the national and international levels. She was the skip of the most dominant rink in women’s curling worldwide during the 1990s. Sandra Marie Schmirler was born on June 11, 1963, in Bigger Saskatchewan and was the youngest of three daughters.
As a little girl, Sandra was actively involved in many sports but loved playing hockey the most. At the age of 12, Sandra began curling in Grade 7 as part of the school’s physical education program. During high school, she played as third on her school’s curling rink and won a provincial championship in Grade 12.
After graduating from high school, Sandra went on to study Physical Education at the University of Saskatchewan. She curled with a team that made their first appearance in Saskatchewan’s provincial playdowns in 1983.
Sandra moved to Regina after graduating to take a job at the North West Leisure Centre. She continued to curl and was nicknamed “Schmirler the curler” by a fellow employee at the center. In 1987, as a member of Kathy Falman’s rink, Sandra won her first provincial championship.
On this team, she met Jan Betker who became a close friend and life-long curling partner. In 1990, Kathy Falman’s team had a disappointing performance at the provincial championships and Sandra decided to form her own team. She recruited Jan Betker as third, Marcia Geidereit as lead and Joan McCusker as the second. These four women made an awesome curling team.
They won three Canadian Championships known as the Scott Tournament of Hearts in 1993, 1994, and 1997, and the World Curling Championships in the same years. This was a feat that no other women’s team had ever done.
No other women’s team made up of the same four members had ever won more than one world title. Sandra also became known as the Queen of Hearts due to her rink’s repeated victories at the Scott Tournament of Hearts.
In 1997, as well as winning Worlds, the Schmirler rink won at the Canadian Olympic Curling Trials, which earned them the right to represent Canada in curling at the first medal events at the Nagano Games in Japan.
The Schmirler rink was well respected in Canada and the world curling circles due to their great curling skills, but also for their humble, down-to-earth attitudes, and warm personalities.
At the Nagano Olympics, the Schmirler rink won gold and was vaulted into international fame and Sandra became known as the Queen of Curling. After all the media frenzy, accolades from the Premier and the Mayor, and celebrations were over, Sandra returned to a normal life with her husband and daughter.
During her second pregnancy, Sandra suffered from agonizing pain in her back which did not go away when her second daughter was born. She was diagnosed with a type of cancer that she fought courageously but lost the battle at the age of 36 on March 2, 2000.
Tributes to Sandra appeared in newspapers across the country from sportswriters and public figures. Buildings, parks, and streets now bear her name in Regina and Bigger, Saskatchewan.
A fund, called the Sandra Schmirler Foundation, was established by the Scott Paper Company to help babies in crisis at neonatal centers in hospitals across the country. Every time a Canadian thinks of curling watches it, or plays the game, Sandra Schmirler will be remembered.
Awards And Accomplishments
1993-94, 1997 Rink wins Canadian championships
1993-94, 1997 Rink wins world championships
1997 Rink places first in Canadian Olympic qualifiers
1998 Rink wins gold medal in Olympics
1998 Rink named Team of the Year by the Canadian Press
1999 Inducted into the Canadian Curling Hall of Fame
|1986–87||Kathy Fahlman||Sandra Schmirler||Sheila Schneider||1987 Sask., STOH|
|1990–91||Sandra Peterson||Jan Betker||Marcia Schiml||1991 Sask., STOH|
|1992–93||Sandra Peterson||Jan Betker||Marcia Schiml||1993 Sask., STOH|
|1993–94||Sandra Peterson||Jan Betker||Marcia Gudereit||1994 STOH|
|1994–95||Sandra Peterson||Jan Betker||Marcia Gudereit||1995 STOH|
|1996–97||Sandra Schmirler||Jan Betker||Marcia Gudereit||1997 Sask., STOH|
|1997–98||Sandra Schmirler||Jan Betker||Marcia Gudereit||1997 COCT, 1998 STOH, OG|