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Featured Curling Athlete: Amber Holland

When it comes to contributing to curling both on and off the ice, there may not be a curler in Canada who compares to Amber Holland.

On the ice, her accomplishments speak for themselves. She won a Canadian junior title in 1992 (followed by a world junior silver medal a year later); she’s skipped in two Canadian Curling Trials, in 2001 in Regina and 2009 in Edmonton; played in a Canadian mixed championship; won various cashspiels — most notably the 2008 Grand Slam Players’ Championship; and, to top it all off, last season won her long-awaited first Scotties Tournament of Hearts Canadian championship, beating three-time defending champ Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg in a dramatic final in Charlottetown.

Along with third Kim Schneider, second Tammy Schneider, lead Heather Kalenchuk, alternate Jolene Campbell and coach Merv Fonger, the Canadian champs went on to claim silver at the Capital One World Women’s Curling Championship in Denmark.

Calling the shots at the 2009 Canada Cup of Curling (Photo Michael Burns)

Off the ice, though, Holland’s resume is equally impressive. She’s the executive-director of the Saskatchewan Curling Association, and has worked for the organization for the past 15 years.

As well, she’s a Level 3 certified coach and has taught at high-performance camps across the country. She served as the Canadian Curling Association’s team leader for Marliese Miller’s Canadian junior championship team at the 2003 world junior championships in Switzerland.

And for good measure, Holland is a long-time volunteer on the organizing committee for the Schmirler Charity Classic World Curling Tour women’s cashspiel in Regina.

Birthplace: Yorkton, Sask.
Hometown: Regina
Curling Club: Kronau Curling Club
Current Team: Team Amber Holland
Position: Skip
Delivery: Right

Quick Hits with Amber Holland

Do you have any superstitions?
“No superstitions, really. Routines — yes. Listen to the same songs before games, do the same warmups.”

Three people, living or not, whom you would invite to a dinner party.
“Oprah Winfrey (strong woman, amazing story); Wayne Gretzky (who wouldn’t want the Great One at a dinner party?); Matthew McConaughey (for the eye candy!).”

If you could be a star any other sport, what would it be, and why?
“Golf; I love to play it and it would be even better to be really good at it!”

If you could change any rule in curling, which one would it be, and why?
“Thinking time would be a good change. Also, let’s just decide one way or the other on eight or 10 ends and use the same format at the WCT and CCA/WCF events.”

What music, if any, do you like to listen to before a game?
“A mix of everything from country to rock. Sugarland, Hedley, Pink.”

Favourite:
— Website? “Google; I’m always searching for some random thing.”
— Order from Tim Hortons? “Cinnamon-raisin bagel, toasted, with strawberry cream cheese and a chocolate milk. I don’t drink coffee.”
— Vacation destination? “Other than taking vacation for curling, I would have to say Portugal was my current favourite vacation.”
— Junk food? “I don’t really have a favourite. If I am craving sweet, Twizzlers; if I am craving salt, all-dressed chips.”

Do you have any pet peeves?
“Bad/incompetent drivers. Although I can figure out how to remain calm on the ice when curling, I do tend to get road rage when drivers around me do silly things.”

Person who had the most influence on your curling career. And why?
“My dad to begin with — he got me started in the sport and always had high expectations for me and made sure he pushed me to be the best. And the two coaches I have had, Jim Orr and Merv Fonger. Their belief in me as a player and as a skip has given me the tools to compete at a high level.”

First thing on your Bucket List?
“Go on a warm holiday in the middle of winter.”

Favourite pastime between draws at cashspiels?
“Napping is definitely No. 1; watching TLC is No. 2.”

Mixed doubles in the Olympics — thumbs up?  Thumbs down? And why?
“Thumbs sideways??? I am still unsure if I like the idea; it is such a new discipline in our sport that it seems weird that it took us so long to get traditional curling in the Olympics and now in a few short years we may have mixed doubles. After I get to play it at the Continental Cup this year and see if I am any good at it, maybe I’ll have thumbs up because it may get me to the Olympics some day!”

One thing most people don’t know about you?
“I like to cook, but never really have time to do it. In my next life I may be a chef.”

Your ideal shot to win an Olympic gold medal:
“Any shot would be great by me! Probably a draw vs. a hit, though!”

(Photo Michael Burns)