Monday, March 26, 2012
AMBER ROCKED THE CURLING WORLD!
By: Bob Hughes for Exit Realty Fusion
It came out of nowhere, or so it seemed, and it sent waves of shock throughout the curling world in Saskatchewan and beyond, surprising, even stunning, the curling fraternity from Newfoundland to British Columbia.
Only one year ago, Amber Holland, the darling of Canadian women’s curling, and her rink had won the Scotties championship in the showcase women’s curling event in Canada. This week, she grabbed hold of her rink and breathed new life into. She announced that she would be leaving the team that came within a win of the world championship almost exactly a year ago.
Nobody really seemed to see it coming. But after a dismal 2011-2012 season, you figured something was going to have been done. The team performed poorly throughout the cash season and then failed to even make the playoffs in the Canadian women’s championship in Red Deer. The only reason they were in Red Deer was because the defending Canadian champion receives an automatic bye into the Scotties, which is one of the goofiest things you can find in any highly competitive sport.
When Amber’s rink of Kim and Tammy Schneider, Heather Kalenchuk and Jolene Campbell were eliminated by Saskatchewan champion Michelle Englot in the final game of the round robin schedule in Red Deer, the wind had clearly gone out of their sails. It was a hard fall. And, they had never really played well, or consistently well, in Red Deer. Mostly, it seemed they relied too heavily on Amber to bail them out with last-rock heroics. And, mostly, she did. But curling is a team sport and you can’t lean on one player for too long a period of time and expect to win.
A year ago, they were being looked upon as a potential curling dynasty, even possibly someday reaching the lofty heights the Sandra Schmirler rink attained.
And, if you knew Amber Holland, then you knew one championship would never quench her thirst for victory. She is a great curler. She loves the sport to death. And she lives to compete. So, you knew coming out of Red Deer, she was only more hungry to get back on the podium. The iconic Sandra Schmirler was like that. So were the legendary Richardson rink. It is the only way you can win. You need that kind of fuel firing up your engine.
To get to a world championship takes great sacrifice and dedication. Perhaps, the rest of Amber’s rink had lost the ability to put in the time it takes, and, believe it, there is a lot more to this than just showing up for some Wednesday night league game. It is demanding and it takes up a big chunk of your time.
Whatever happened, Amber got the feeling in her gut that it was time for to her to end her association of seven years with her rink. She handled it with great class, and feeling. This was not a team thing. This was a friendship that had grown strongly through seven years of being together. And, it was not an easy, or a snap decision.
“You know,” said Sam Richardson of the Richardson rink that won Canadian and world champions, “you will never hear me say a bad word about Amber Holland. She is a great skip and a great person. This must have been a very tough decision. Back in our day, Ernie had to make decisions like that at times. They had to be done. And, it paid off for us. Amber has shown a lot of courage, but it will pay off for her.”
So, now, Amber is on an island as she looks for a whole new rink. There are plenty of great women curlers out there who possess a strong respect for Amber and what she has accomplished. And, you know you have not heard the end of Amber Holland on the Canadian curling stage.
She and her rink will all head off in new directions, but they leave each other knowing they came within a whisker of winning a world championship and made tons of memories that will last a lifetime. And, they made women’s curling so fun to watch.