96 and still throwing rocks: Sask. curler says 'it's good exercise'
Helen Garinger started curling in 1950 and hasn't stopped since
Think you're getting too old for curling? Don't tell Helen Garinger that.
She hits the ice twice a week and didn't break stride as she celebrated her 96th birthday on Monday.
Garinger has been curling in White Fox since the rink's inception but started with the sport even earlier, in 1950 at her previous stomping grounds of Brooksby.
I just love it because you can meet so many nice people, and it's nice exercise.- Helen Garinger
"I just love it because you can meet so many nice people, and it's nice exercise," she told CBC's Blue Sky.
Outlasting her children
It's only the past three years that Garinger has started needing some assistance throwing the rock "because I have a sore knee." She uses a special handle on the end of her curling broom to send it past the hog line — the line a rock needs to pass to be considered in play.
"If there's a will, there's a way," said her daughter Mary Lou Almen, who also curls.
When they curl in bonspiels, Almen usually skips and Garinger plays lead.
"We don't like her to sweep very much on the ice because she really tries," said Almen, describing how much effort her mother exerts to influence the rock's path.
Garinger said she hopes she has another season in her.
"I probably will retire but I can't say that for sure because if the curling bug bites me next year, I might try to throw a rock," Garinger said.
If her children and in-laws have their say, this will be her last year.
"We said we would curl with mom as long as she can curl, but we're kind of hoping she quits pretty soon because some of us are ready to quit," Almen said, with a laugh.
A legacy of curling
The great-grandmother has already passed on quite a legacy of curling within her family, said her daughter.
"We were probably put on the ice just shortly after we were able to walk when we were kids. There was seven kids and our parents, so I think we had two teams in the Brooksby curling rink when we were young," Almen said.
Garinger is a matriarch for her family. She still lives alone, and her tally of crocheted afghans comes in at more than 200.
"She's one of the best cooks I know," Almen said.
She also has the biggest garden in White Fox, she said.
There are still a lot of games to be played this year, including a seniors bonspiel in March.
CBC Radio's Blue Sky is doing a monthly segment about good news happening in small communities around Saskatchewan. Have an idea for our next segment? Email us.
With files from CBC's Blue Sky and Ashleigh Mattern