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Inspiring Canadians - In Sport and Life

Honoured Member

JOAN MCCUSKER

Inducted in 2000

Member Details

Date of Birth: June 8, 1965
Place of Birth: Yorktown, Saskatchewan
Sport: Curling
Member Category: Athlete

Career Highlights

1993,94,97

Canadian Championship and World Championship winners

1998

Lillehammer Olympic Games - Gold medal (first Olympic gold medal won in the sport)

Honoured Member JOAN MCCUSKER
Inspire

Story

When people speak about the Sandra Schmirler curling team the words sisters, best friends, and soul mates are often invoked. This is unusual language in a sport that is so competitive. The four members of a competitive curling team usually have ambitions to move up the ladder, from vice to skip, or from lead and second to vice and then to skip. But the Sandra Schmirler foursome was far from average. Each member was perfectly fitted to her position and the team ran like clockwork. This is why it was recognized as the best women's curling team in the world. The story of the Sandra Schmirler curling team is the story of four motivated women who put their individual talents together to create a force that became a legend in the world of curling. Sandra Schmirler, Jan Betker, Marcia Gudereit, and Joan McCusker each had similar beginnings to their curling careers, being exposed to the sport at a young age while growing up in the curling-crazy province of Saskatchewan. Although they were born in different parts of the province, the groundwork for their future success was laid in startlingly similar ways by parents and coaches who stressed the basics of the sport and the proper attitude that would always keep their "hobby" in perspective. Sandra and Jan first met as teammates on a Regina rink skipped by another woman. Joan and Marcia met as a result of a recommendation from Joan's future husband, Brian. When Sandra and Jan decided to form their own team, they asked Joan's sister, Cathy, to join them. Cathy declined because she was pregnant. However, she recommended her sister Joan who agreed, but only if she could also bring along her friend Marcia as the lead. The rest is history. Seldom have four individuals jelled so quickly and been as close off the ice as they were on it. Their individual skills, goals, and personalities combined perfectly to form an unstoppable team. They won three Canadian and three World Championships in 1993, 1994, and 1997. This marked the first time that a women's team composed of the same four members won more than one world championship title. When curling made its debut at the 1998 Olympic Games in Nagano, the Sandra Schmirler team easily claimed the first Olympic gold medal in the sport. For people around the world, history will show only the results of this outstanding curling team which dominated women's curling so completely over a six-year period. What it won't show is how hard they worked to achieve their goals, how well planned and disciplined their approach to curling was, and yet how through it all, their families were the most important elements of their lives. It was this balance that allowed them to achieve at the highest possible level. Despite their success, they remained, as former Canadian and world champion Lindsay Sparkes expressed, "...four little girls from Saskatchewan who have always maintained their humility and charm."


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