Special moment in time: Local curlers make town proud

By Stephen Lylyk 

Welcome to Kronau Home of Curling Champions!
Photo by Stephen Lylyk

Jamie Schneider, Danny Ferner, Kelly Vollman, and Steven Leippi reached never-before -seen heights while representing Kronau, culminating in a Junior men’s national curling championship in 1983. 

“The community was very very proud of the fact that because it was such a small community, and managed to produce a Canadian championship team, it made everybody very proud,” said Kronau resident Ina Leippi mother of Steven Leippi

 Curling had been a popular activity for everyone to get involved with in Kronau.  

 “Everyne curled in Kronau,” said Steven. “There’s no hockey rink so… everybody just took it up right away. And… Kronau built a new rink with artificial ice. And they had a real good junior program, and put out lots of good junior curlers.”

“How we formed the team, it was really out of necessity,” exclaimed Ferner. “If we wanted to throw, these were the four guys around our age.”

The team’s performance improved immensely from their 1982 play showcased in 1983. 

“That I think was the stepping stone for us to decide that we’re better than this, we got to work harder, we can be better and we will be better.” Schneider mentioned.

“Jamie learned alot from his brothers,” explains Ferner, “and alot of that was from watching and curling with them.”

Jamie was “very self taught. He just picked up things so quick on the ice… His knowledge of Curling was really good for a 17-18 year old kid.”

The Schneider foursome nearly failed to qualify for the provincial BonSpiel in 1983 

“I believe we were in Maple Creek,” said Ferner. “It was the 10th end and we had a nail biter, I believe, the other skip had the last drop to win the game. He came heavy and we ended up winning a game we probably shouldn’t have.”

The exciting finishes would continue for the Kronau foursome into the 1983 National BonSpiel Final vs Newfoundland. 

“We started out playing fairly poorly,” said Ferner, “The Ice was a little bit faster, and a little bit straighter. And we struggled a little bit kind of figuring it out. I believe we got two in eighth to go one up, and they tied it in nine and yeah. Jamie had to draw. I believe he had to… just hit the house to win, and you know he made it.” 

The significance of the victory for Kronau would be symbolized years later

“A sign actually was put up several years later, and it was put up by people who had moved into Kronau. They felt that it was a way of identifying Kronau,” said Ina Leippi. 

For winning the national BonSpiel the foursome qualified for the World BonSpiel located in Cornwall Ontario for 1984. 

“Because we are 19 and under,,” said Steven Leippi, “the Canadian Curling association sent us over to Germany and Scotland to play against the European teams, and Scottish teams, just to see how they curl, and just for practice, I think we were over there for a week.”

The town of Kronau was heavily invested in the foursome’s play . 

“Of course, going to London,” said Ina Leippi who attended the Halifax BonSpiel, “we took forty people with us… Marianne Lafoy, in Regina actually had a travel agency. And she helped us pull together the necessary trappings that had to go along with organizing 40 people.”

“We didn’t do too bad in the worlds,” said Jamie Schneider. “Typically in the Canadian juniors, four teams make it to the [playoff]. But that year it happened that Switzerland went through undefeated and they got the top spot, and only two other reps got in. We played Scotland in the final game, and they beat us and they got third place, and we got fourth place.” 

The foursome built lasting memories through curling together

“We’re at a local BonSpiel,” said Ferner, “and [Kelly] says nobody is bidding on this H Hill team. So he bought that team for $5… we went out the next day and we realized that this H Hill team was a team of senior ladies that were put in to fill a spot.”

Over time Steven, and Danny, and Kelly stopped serious curling.

“All of a sudden,” exclaimed Steven Leippi, “you turned from Juniors to men’s professionalism and you’re trying to juggle job, careers.. and you’ve got to make decisions I guess.” 

Jamie Schneider would continue in the curling leading to him witnessing his nieces winning the 2011 Scotties.  

 “Well definitely winning, seeing our family in the stands was one of the biggest things, turning around to see all of our family running to to celebrate the win is definitely one of the top things.” Said Kim Schneider a member of that 2011  Scotties championship team

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