One of the most prestigious trophies in Canadian sport, the Brier is sought after by curling's best clubs.
Approximately 80 percent of the world's curlers – 1.2 million people – are Canadian. While you can find curling rinks in large cities, the majority of the 1200 Canadian curling clubs are found in small communities.
In Saskatchewan writer W.O Mitchell's novel, The Black Bonspiel of Willie MacCrimmon, the main character says, "You could say curling is as much for the spirit as for the flesh." Such is the feeling for a game consisting of a flat icy surface and coloured rocks. This competitive spirit has infused Brier champions Sandra Schmirler and Eddie Werenich. The game may be frustratingly tedious to some, but there is no denying that the ice and the rocks form part of the granite linking small town Canada with world class champions.
Eddie Werenich was nicknamed "the Wrench" because he ratcheted up the pressure on the ice, and often abraded other players and curling officials off the ice. He has been the face of Canadian curling for more than 20 years and has led his team to a Brier championship and two world championships.
Sandra Schmirler skipped her team to three Canadian championships and three world titles in 1993, 1994 and 1997. Schmirler followed these victories with a win at the Canadian Olympic Trials, giving her team the opportunity to represent Canada at the Nagano Olympics in 1998. In Japan, Schmirler's rink finished first in round robin play with a 6-1 record and went on to win gold.
Tragically, at the height of her young career, Schmirler was diagnosed with cancer in the summer of 1999. While a fighter to the end, she lost her battle with cancer on 2 March 2000 at the age of 36.
They are Footprints on the rink of Canadian sport.