The women of curling are back.
Fifteen of the world's top female curling competitors appear in the 2019 Women of Curling Calendar, which is now on sale at the website womenofcurling.com. The high-quality printed wall calendar sells for CAN $29.95 and proceeds will be directed to no less than 12 different charitable causes, each selected by the athletes themselves.
The athletes represent five countries – Canada, the United States, Scotland, Switzerland and Japan – and each one created her own photo theme and found a volunteer photographer to get "the" shot.
"I was so excited to get the call about the calendar," said Scotland's Lauren Gray, defending European champion and a world bronze medallist who plays lead for Team Eve Muirhead. Gray, who represents the month of April, is fundraising for the Scottish Association for Mental Health and is portrayed with the famed Ailsa Craig in the background.
"When my photographer and I pulled into the car park there was a full motorbiking group that had stopped for a break," said Gray. "You can imagine their confusion as I walked straight into the water in my jeans and started posing. Having an audience was certainly not part of the plan!"
Each month also showcases worldwide curling events from January through December, colour-coded in five different categories for easy reference. This makes the product a true curling calendar.
Edmonton's Laura Walker is the defending world bronze medallist in Mixed Doubles and just captured gold in the first leg of Mixed Doubles at the new Curling World Cup series in Suzhou, China. She appeared in the calendar years ago, and felt some nostalgia during her photo shoot, but remarked "At this point in my career I think I have a bit of a bigger platform to make a difference. The goal is to raise money and help the charities.
"We did some shots at my house and some at Rachelle Brown’s," said Walker, who represents February and whose share of calendar proceeds will go to the Sandra Schmirler Foundation. "I was fostering a cat at the time and couldn’t keep him off the bed when I took the first round of shots. It was so sweet, I had to take some pictures with him... and I almost used one!
"My mom and my sister also FaceTimed me while I was shooting and I hadn’t told them about the calendar yet. They were like, ‘What the heck are you doing?’ When we were at Rachelle’s place she was hilarious, getting up on chairs to cover her TV with a sheet to get a full white background, all while pregnant... anything for a good shot."
Japanese Olympic bronze medal skip Satsuki Fujisawa is the first Asian athlete to appear in either the Women of Curling or Men of Curling Calendars. Fujisawa, representing the month of May, is donating her proceeds to JOICFP, the Japanese Organization for International Cooperation in Family Planning.
"My photo shoot took place in Squamish, British Columbia, where my photographer Tempei lives," said Fujisawa, who spent the summer in Canada studying English." He knows so many great places and took me to the best spots for photo shooting. It was awesome to see so many beautiful places in Squamish.
"Tempei is also a climber and has a really strong core. He climbed like a monkey, everywhere, such as in trees and the edge of the poles along the pier when he was taking photos. I was just amazed with the unique techniques and skills he has. It was the best photo shooting experience ever!"
The calendar also features a full team participating – Team Silvana Tirinzoni of Switzerland – for the first time since Norway's Team Thomas Ulsrud posed as a foursome in the 2018 Men of Curling Calendar, which raised $100,000 for multiple charities. Tirinzoni and Co. are a new squad for the next Olympic quadrennial and placed second at the first Grand Slam of Curling series event, the Elite 10, last night in Chatham, Ontario.
Kate Cameron of Thompson, Manitoba caused a stir when she posed for her photographer on a summer weeknight.
"Ha ha, it was very awkward," said the third for Team Allison Flaxey, who as Ms. January is raising money for Northern Manitoba Paws In Need. "We had couples out for walks, people riding their bikes, all while I have no pants on down by the water at 6:00 p.m. on a Wednesday.
"This is something that was completely out of my comfort zone, but it was a perfect opportunity to give back to my small town community and help make a difference.
"I knew I wanted to give back to animals. As a new dog owner I clearly love animals. But living up in the north, you hear some stories that Paws In Need has dealt with... neglected animals being left in boxes, on door steps, at their shelter, hurt, abandoned, et cetera. Vicki (McNevin) and her team never refuse an animal, they try their absolute best to care for that animal. This rescue runs completely from donations. When I met with Vicki to ask some questions about choosing their charity she was over the moon. So please buy some calendars and help me raise some money for these adorable animals!"
The 2019 Women of Curling Calendar is a project from The Curling News and The Community Fundraiser, now a 10-year partnership that has raised almost $400,000 for numerous charitable causes. The 2019 edition is available now from womenofcurling.com.
The full lineup of athletes and their selected charitable causes is:
January – Kate Cameron, Thompson/Winnipeg, Manitoba (Team Allison Flaxey) – Northern Manitoba Paws In Need
February – Laura Walker, Edmonton/Toronto (Team Walker) – Sandra Schmirler Foundation
March – Casey Scheidegger, Lethbridge, Alberta (Team Scheidegger) – Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation
April – Lauren Gray, Scotland (Team Eve Muirhead) – Scottish Association for Mental Health
May – Satsuki Fujisawa, Japan (Team Fujisawa) – Japanese Organization for International Cooperation in Family Planning (JOICFP)
June – Jo-Ann Rizzo, Brantford, Ontario (Team Rizzo) – Brant County SPCA
July – Team Silvana Tirinzoni (all four team members), Switzerland – Rolling Thunder
August – Shannon Birchard, Winnipeg (Team Kerri Einarson) – KidSport Manitoba
September – Kristen Streifel, Saskatoon/University of Alberta (Team Streifel) – Curling Canada Foundation
October – Kendra Lilly, Sudbury/Thunder Bay (Team Krista McCarville) – Alzheimer Society Sudbury-Manitoulin North Bay & Districts
November – Nina Roth, USA (Team Roth) – Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation
December – Tess Bobbie, Toronto (Team Julie Tippin) – Special Olympics Ontario