SYDNEY, N.S. — As a kid growing up in Biggar, Sask., Robyn Silvernagle dreamed of one day following in the footsteps of the town’s most famous athlete.She’s living at least part of that dream just by wearing Saskatchewan colours in the Scotties Tournament of Hearts here on Cape Breton Island.“It definitely is a special connection,” the 31-year-old skip said Thursday.“It’s very cool to represent the same province that she did.”
The person she’s referring to is, of course, the great Sandra Schmirler, who won three Canadian women’s curling championships, three world championships and an Olympic gold medal in a career — and life — that was cut short by cancer at age 36 in 2000.Silvernagle was 11 when Schmirler won her gold medal in Nagano, Japan, representing Canada, Saskatchewan and the town of Biggar, which is located about an hour south of The Battlefords.“I remember her winning and they had a parade in Biggar,” Silvernagle said. “I got to put on her gold medal and her jacket and hang out with her, so that was really cool. Not many people get to do that with an Olympian.”Saskatchewan has won only one Scotties championship since Schmirler’s death — Amber Holland won it in 2011 — but Silvernagle’s team is in the thick of things this year.
Saskatchewan skip Robyn Silvernagle watches a rock as they play Northern Ontario in championship pool action at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts at Centre 200 in Sydney, N.S. on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019.
Andrew Vaughan /
THE CANADIAN PRESS
Her team, which includes third Stefanie Lawton, second Jessie Hunkin and lead Kara Thevenot, is tied for first place at 7-2 with Ontario (Rachel Homan) and Alberta (Chelsea Carey) — the two teams Saskatchewan plays on Friday. The top four teams in the final standings advance to the playoff round.Silvernagle is a rookie here but she comes from a strong curling pedigree.“My mom (Anita) and (Schmirler) played high school provincials back in 1981 and they won it,” Silvernagle said. “My mom skipped and Sandra played third.“My mom kind of went off and had babies — thank you, mom — and that’s when Sandra took off in her curling career.”Even though Schmirler has been gone for almost 19 years, her skill and passion for the game are still inspiring for younger players.“She was someone I really, really looked up to and even now she’s still my role model and idol,” Silvernagle said. “On and off the ice, she was such a great person, so humble, and I look up to that.”Twyman@postmedia.comTwitter.com/Ted_Wyman