Road To The Olympic Games

Women of Curling calendar out to dismiss 'double standard'

Canada's Laura Walker was happy to get "dolled up" for the 2019 Women of Curling calendar and sees the project as a way to show women are free to express themselves any way they like.

Proceeds go to charity, but also allows athletes to 'express' themselves

Toronto's Laura Walker, in this picture not included in the calendar, said she chose to participate in part to prove a point about how women are viewed differently than men when expressing themselves. (Brad Hamilton)

CHATHAM, Ont. — Laura Walker was happy to get "dolled up" for the 2019 Women of Curling calendar. After all, proceeds go to charity.

"I think you can't go wrong with that and it brings more exposure to curling again," she said.

The Toronto native will be raising funds from calendar sales for the Sandra Schmirler Foundation. But there's a little more to it for Walker.

"I think a woman should be able to express herself in whatever way she wants," she said.

Walker said she's been getting questions about making the decision to be in the calendar and is somewhat annoyed by it. She said there's a double standard when it comes to the way people view this project.

"Brett Gallant in his boxers is cool but Laura Walker in basically her bathing suit is… why is that so different?" she said. "I think a woman should be able to express herself in whatever way she wants and show her feminine side without getting a comment about it. 

"I'm really fired up about this right now."

Walker said that with the climate around this issue the way it is, she felt she needed to make a statement by being in this calendar.

"I don't think the same question would be asked of men," Walker said. "So that says we need to keep doing things like this."

This past off-season, Walker (formerly Crocker) married Brad Gushue's lead, Geoff Walker. She said when people talk to her about curling one of the first things they usually say is that she's Geoff's wife — and that doesn't sit well with her.

"I think everyone knows I'm Geoff Walker's wife but I don't think it has to go in the same sentence as my curling accomplishments," Walker said emphatically.

"I would like my curling accomplishments to be first and foremost. I'm proud as hell to be Geoff's wife but I'm a separate person."

Calendar used to feature nude curlers

The project started nearly 15 years ago, back when it was titled the "Fire on Ice Fundraising Calendar" and featured European athletes. It was bold. Most of the curlers were naked. All of the funds from those calendars went directly to the athletes.

In 2010, the owner and publisher of The Curling News, George Karrys, took over the project and brought it to Canada. His rule was that there would be no nudity. The other big switch was that instead of the money going to the athletes, it would go to a charity selected by the curlers.

Scotland's Laura Gray is featured on the cover of the 2019 Women of Curling calendar. She's raising money for the Scottish Association for Mental Health. (The Curling News)

In 2011, women were highlighted in the calendar. Then, in the lead-up to the 2014 Olympics, a Men of Curling calendar hit the shelves. Iterations of the men's and women's calendars have traded off years over the last number of seasons.

In total, the men's calendars have raised more than $200,000 for 22 different charities. The 2017 women's calendar raised $75,000. All of the calendars in the last 10 years have raised nearly $400,000 worldwide.

The 2019 women's calendar has a heavy focus on international curlers from Switzerland, Scotland, Japan and the U.S. However, there are some Canadians who are taking part.

Scheidegger echoes Walker's statement

The process of deciding whether or not to appear in the calendar was a little different for Lethbridge, Alta., skip Casey Scheidegger. She's a mother and a teacher.

"I'll admit I was kind of nervous about it and not fully comfortable about it. It's for charity though so it was hard to say no," Scheidegger said. "I'm a teacher so I'm very covered and not sexualised at all. Being a teacher I really had to consider my students might see this. My employers might see this."

She'll be donating her money to the Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation. When Scheidegger went over the photo shoot with the organizers, she wanted to make sure her photo was "classy".

"I would describe it as Alberta strong. It definitely focuses on the province that I'm from," she said.

But much like Walker, Scheidegger said there's a double standard when it comes to what people would expect from a women's calendar compared to a men's calendar.

"I think that it's tricky. The men get to be a little more funny whereas there's an expectation on the women to look really good and have that sexual aspect."

There's one more thing to all of this for Scheidegger. She says she wants to show her two-and-a-half year old son that his mother is a strong woman in sport.

"The reason I continue to curl is that I want him to be old enough to remember that and be a good role model for him. I want him to see me pursuing my dreams because I had that as a kid with my mom. She was really involved in competitive sport when I was young."

About the Author

Devin Heroux

CBC reporter

Devin Heroux reports for CBC News and Sports. He is now based in Toronto, after working first for the CBC in Calgary and Saskatoon.

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