Legendary Canadian women's skip Sandra Schmirler was officially awarded the World Curling Freytag Award at the Opening Banquet of the Ford World Men’s Curling Championship 2009 in Moncton, Canada. The posthumous award was received by Schmirler's widower Shannon England and their two children, Sara and Jenna.
Schmirler led her Saskatchewan teammates to three world championships in 1993, 1994 and 1997 and to the first official Olympic gold medal championship at Nagano, Japan in 1998. Her death, just two years following the Olympic triumph, stunned the curling world and her funeral was televised live on two Canadian networks.
Today, the Sandra Schmirler Foundation is in its eighth year of "caring for babies in crisis" through direct giving to neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) facilities across Canada. The Foundation recognizes in these premature infants the same will to live that fuelled Schmirler's spirited battle with cancer, and also recognizes that "champions start small."