Mike Ridewood – Olympic Curling

Hockey is considered to be the iconic Canadian sport. But in many ways, curling is the ultimate Canadian sport. Curling at the Olympics has become the Holy Grail for Canadian curlers.

At international curling events, photographers from the United States seek out Canadian photographers. “How does this game work? Are all the players important? How does the scoring work?”

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Canada’s women’s curling team (left to right) Jan Betker, Marcia Gudereit, Joan McCusker and Sandra Schmirler celebrate their gold medal victory over Denmark at the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics. (Photo – Mike Ridewood/COC)

From Nagano 1998 to Vancouver 2010, I’ve seen the highs and lows in the gold medal curling game.

I photographed the Brier in Calgary in 1997 at the Calgary Saddledome. That event filled the 18,000-seat arena for many of the round robin matches and all the final draws. The rink at the Nagano Winter Games was quite a shock. It’s curling venue, the Kazakoshi Park Arena, had a capacity of only 1,924.

Curling legend Sandra Schmirler (three times world champion) defeated Denmark in the gold medal game in Nagano. Cancer can be such a cruel disease. Schmirler passed away two years later in March 2000 at the age of 36.

 

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Mike Harris was ill for the gold medal game and lost to Switzerland. Harris’ rink had lost only one game in the round robin in Nagano, Japan, in 1998. (Photo – Mike Ridewood/COC)

Ontario’s Mike Harris lost to the Swiss in the gold medal game. One of my favourite images from Nagano was the Swiss team tossing their skip in the air.

 

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Canadian men’s curling skip Kevin Martin (right) reacts to his 6 – 5 loss to Norway in the gold medal game during the Winter Olympics at Ogden, Utah, on February 22, 2002. (Photo – Mike Ridewood/COC)

Another curling legend, Kevin Martin, was in the final against Norway in Salt Lake City in 2002. Marin’s final shot for the win was one he probably would make 99 times out of hundred. Wasn’t to be.

Martin returned to the gold medal game in Vancouver 2010. This time he defeated Norway 6 -3.

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Skip Kevin Martin (right) of Edmonton, Alberta, and third John Morris of Chestermere, Alberta, check out their gold medals in the men’s curling final at the Vancouver Olympic Centre at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, on February 27, 2010. (Photo – Mike Ridewood/COC)

In Torino, veteran Russ Howard, playing second for the young Brad Gushue rink from Newfoundland, defeated Finland to take gold. Howard was definitely the big personality on the team and probably the same age as most of his teammates’ fathers.

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Canada wins the gold medal curling game at the Winter Olympics in Pinerolo, Italy, on February 24, 2006, From left, Mike Adams, Jamie Korab, Russ Howard, Mark Nichols and Brad Gushue. Howard was quite impressed with the flower presentation after the game. (Photo – Mike Ridewood/COC)

Calgary’s Cheryl Bernard was in the Vancouver women’s gold medal game against Sweden. The game went to extra ends and Bernard had to make a double take-out and stay in the rings to win the game. She took out only one and gave Sweden’s Anette Norberg her second gold medal.

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Sweden celebrates after Canadian skip Cheryl Bernard missed her final shot in the 11th end in the women’s curling final at the Vancouver Olympic Centre at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, on February 26, 2010. (Photo – Mike Ridewood/COC)

The Olympic trials for the Sochi games just wrapped up in Winnipeg last week. I imagine the Jennifer Jones rink and Brad Jacobs team will be going for gold in Sochi.

 

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Nine ends of curling can seem like a long haul around the fifth end. Rick Eglinton (right) of the Toronto Star and I are either deep in thought or totally zoned out during the women’s curling final at the Vancouver Olympic Centre at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, on February 26, 2010. (Photo – Rick Madonik/Toronto Star)

 

 

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