Devin Heroux's ode to curling: Canada's quirky, connected, lovable sport
Fans across Canada are celebrating Curling Day in Canada
MOOSE JAW, Sask. — All across the frozen Canadian landscape during the frigid winter months people from coast-to-coast-to-coast have found warmth, curling and community inside rinks.
From beautifully crafted curling clubs with artificial ice to old two-sheet natural ice barns, these places are the heartbeat of so many cities and towns across Canada.
It's Curling Day in Canada, a chance to reflect on all the greats who have played the game over the years, celebrate those in the midst of their granite odyssey and spark dreams for the next wave of curlers.
This week in Saskatchewan, 16 of the top teams gathered to compete in the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the crown jewel of women's curling in Canada – now just a few games away from the championship.
We spend hours and hours on our backyard rink sliding and throwing. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CurlingDayinCanada?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CurlingDayinCanada</a> <a href="https://t.co/Yvwf1ImlEb">pic.twitter.com/Yvwf1ImlEb</a>—@andrewmead73
It's been an emotional week for many, beginning with a stirring tribute to a promising local curler, Aly Jenkins, who tragically died of a rare complication during childbirth this past October.
She leaves behind her husband Scott and their three beautiful children.
Curling Community is like family
Perhaps the Jenkins' truly heartbreaking story best highlights the power of this sport's tight-knit community.
When Aly Jenkins died, the curling community came together in their grief to support Scott and his family, because it's what curlers and fans of this sport do.
WATCH | Tribute for the late curler Aly Jenkins:
Maybe it's because it's a little quirky and niche – fans of curling are remarkably passionate and devoted to the sport, defenders of the roaring game.
Or maybe it's because young or old, skilled or not-so-skilled, you can head down to the local club and throw a few stones, share a few beverages and enjoy each other's company.
Teammates become family. Fans feel like an extended part of the family because of how close they get to the players. The accessibility to the pros in curling is unlike any other sport. It draws people in.
In what other sport can you watch the best athletes battle it out on the field of play, and then talk about made and missed shots at the Patch after the game ends?
Curlers are truly one-of-a-kind.
Curling is so quintessentially Canadian, laced with humility and tradition. There are light-hearted moments too, but intense battles on the ice as well.
The CanAm tour this past fall was unreal! Spending a few weeks in eastern Canada, meeting and playing with some great folks from so many clubs - competitive and rec players. Wonderful communities. A Screech-in. Loved every stop. Didn’t want it to end! ❤️🥌 🇨🇦 🇺🇸 <a href="https://t.co/pHMnDdoTHO">pic.twitter.com/pHMnDdoTHO</a>—@SeanStevinson
Canadian curling success
And Canadians are extraordinary curlers.
Despite the recent hiccup at the 2018 Olympics, when many jokingly, but not really jokingly, called for a curling summit, Canada still rules the granite world.
Canadian men have won the world title 36 times. The next closest country is Sweden at nine wins. Canadian women have won the championship 17 times, followed by Sweden at eight.
Sure, the gap between Canada and the rest of the world has closed and that's great for the game. But anyone suggesting Canada's place in curling might be slip-sliding away doesn't know the sport.
During the night, Canada's two junior teams competing at the world championship swept the podium.
Jacques Gauthier's rink from Winnipeg won the men's title with a 7-2 victory over Switzerland. Mackenzie Zacharias's team from Altona, Man., followed suit by claiming the women's crown with a 7-5 victory over South Korea.
The future is bright.
Entered a Ladies Bonspiel with this group of life-long friends recently. Taught two of them to curl 15 minutes before our first game. Through a series of unlikely events, ended up winning the D event <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/morelaughsthanwins?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#morelaughsthanwins</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/wontbeourlastbonspiel?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#wontbeourlastbonspiel</a> <a href="https://t.co/nEkrHKsDAu">pic.twitter.com/nEkrHKsDAu</a>—@adangerjack
Curling Canada gets it right
Canada is leading the way when it comes to gender equity in the sport.
For the first time ever, the men's and women's national champion curling teams will now be cashing in the same amount of prize money.
The Scotties and Brier champions will both receive $105,000.
The Grand Slam of Curling has been paying male and female curlers the same amount for years.
At a time when the coverage and pay in sport has been heavily tipped toward men, Curling Canada continues to take monumental steps to level the playing field – because it's the right thing to do.
There's so much to be proud of when it comes to curling in Canada.
People care about this sport. They love this sport. It's part of the social fabric of this country.
In good times and in tragic times, Canada's curling community always comes together.
Rented a couple sheets for my birthday in 2018 and my 1½ year old went on the ice for the first time <a href="https://twitter.com/Thistle_Curling?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Thistle_Curling</a>. This year she and her Asham inflatable rock come to watch us play from on high. <a href="https://t.co/qkmCHegBdV">pic.twitter.com/qkmCHegBdV</a>—@KevinSchachter