OTTAWA — Chelsea Carey's first great curling moment came when she was just six years old, sitting beside her mom and her Gido at the 1992 Brier in Regina, Sask.
Her dad, Dan Carey, was playing third for the Manitoba team skipped by Vic Peters. They would go on to win that Brier. And her Gido (grandfather), John Demkiw, was thrilled by the moment.
"He was so happy when they won he didn't know what to do with himself. So he took his hat off and threw it onto the ice," Carey said.
He was her dad's biggest curling fan in the early days. In fact, during that 1992 Brier, Demkiw didn't miss a game.
"He was convinced he was their good luck charm," Carey said.
And then quickly, he became her biggest curling fan.
On Saturday, Demkiw died. His funeral was Wednesday in Winnipeg. Carey was playing a pivotal game against the defending Olympic champion team skipped by Jennifer Jones.
"I told my mom before the game he was in my heart today," Carey said.
And she went out and won the game for him. Carey defeated Jones Wednesday afternoon in Ottawa 7-5 to move into first place. They're the only undefeated women's team at the Roar of the Rings.
"I would have loved to have been there for the funeral but he would have wanted me to be here and pour my heart and soul into that game and that's what I did," she said.
Learning the game
Carey says her grandparents immigrated to Canada from Ukraine after World War II.
"They had nothing. They had absolutely nothing and they built a life for themselves here," she said.
It wasn't until Carey's mom met her dad that her Baba (grandmother) and Gido took an interest in curling.
"He knew absolutely nothing about curling having come from Ukraine," Carey said. "Neither did my mom after she met my dad. They learned about it after all of that."
Then when Carey's dad won the Brier in 1992, they were hooked.
I’m just so impressed by @chelscarey. Answered reporter’s questions about her late Gido. It was his funeral today. Difficult situation. Much respect and condolences, Chelsea.— @Devin_Heroux
Carey says her Baba would get too nervous watching the games and would often distract herself by doing something else. But not Demkiw. He would do everything he could to watch, even in his dying days.
"Two weeks ago when were playing in the Grand Slam in northern Ontario and he was still around, he somehow found it on the TV in the common room and had everyone watching it," Carey said.
"When we won the quarter-final, he was bragging to everyone [that] his granddaughter just won."
She has always been his Olympian
Chelsea Carey has never been to the Olympics, but Demkiw didn't care. She says for at least ten years he would tell people Carey was an Olympian.
"His English wasn't great and he didn't have a full grasp of that," Carey said with a smile.
As far as Demkiw was concerned, Carey was an Olympic curler. Now she's a few wins away from actually getting to say she's an Olympian.
And she's doing it with her late Gido in her heart.
"He was an amazing man. He was the kindest, most gentle soul I've maybe ever met."