Host City: Nagano, Japan
Venue(s): Kazakoshi Park Arena, Karuizawa
Date Started: February 9, 1998
Date Finished: February 15, 1998
Format: Round-robin pool, followed by single-elimination medal round.
Whilst it could be seen as any Canadian curling team's birthright to be considered favourites for any international competition, [Sandra Schmirler]'s rink had an even stronger case for favouritism than usual. Schmirler had skippered Canada to victory in all three world championships she had contested. Four former world champion skips were also in the field, [Andrea SchÃ¶pp] of Germany who had also won the [demonstration event at Albertville], the chain-smoking Norwegian [Dordi Nordby], [Elisabet Gustafson] of Sweden and [Helena Blach Lavrsen] of Denmark who had won the world title as far back as 1982.
Although Canada lost their second round-robin match to an otherwise disappointing Norwegian outfit, they won every other game and topped the qualifying table ahead of Sweden, Denmark and an all-Scottish Great Britain rink. The Canada-Great Britain semi-final was a much closer affair than anyone had expected with the teams tied after the regulation ten ends. At the first extra end Schmirler threw her last stone knowing that the shot would have to be perfect to win her the game. The stone edged just a few centimetres inside the British stone and took Canada through to meet Denmark in the inaugural Olympic final. The gold medal was more or less decided in the first end of the final when Canada picked up three shots. Denmark matched the Canadians for the rest of the final but the damage was already done and Canada won by a margin of 7 to 5. The silver medal was the first of any colour won by Denmark at the Winter Games.
Sandra Schmirler, affectionately known as "Schmirler the Curler" in Canada was a popular figure in Canada who had given birth to her third child only eight weeks before the Canadian selection trials. Sadly in 1999 she was diagnosed with cancer of the thorax and died in March 2000 at the age of just 36. Bronze medal winner Elisabet Gustafson was a surgeon by profession and was married to the three-time Olympic speed-skating champion [Tomas Gustafson].