Merklinger decides it's time to skip out

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:31 AM ET

Anne Merklinger is hanging up her curling shoes.

The four-time Ontario women's champ and Rideau Curling Club skip has decided enough's enough.

After making an unsuccessful bid to qualify for this year's women's provincials in Fort Frances, the 47-year-old Merklinger gathered her teammates -- Theresa Breen, Susan Froud and Audrey Reddick -- to say she was through.

"No doubt in my mind that it was the hardest decision I've ever made," Merklinger said from her home in Metcalfe last night.

"I took a step back and realized that I'd been doing this for 30 years and that it would be tough and it would be emotional."

Merklinger copped four provincial titles and reached the Ontario final seven times with Breen, Reddick and second Patti McKnight.

They competed at the Scott Tournament of Hearts four times, making two appearances but never winning the championship game, played in one Olympic trials tournament and earned a wad of money on the cashspiel circuit.

Their swan song will come in April at the World Curling Tour Players Championship in Calgary.

Froud will play second and McKnight, who moved to Toronto following the 2000 season, will be asked to attend for one last hurrah.

"It's really sad that Anne is retiring, not only because she was always such a feisty competitor, but she taught us to put more rocks in play," said CBC curling commentator Joan McCusker, a world and Olympic champ with the late Sandra Schmirler, said from her home in Regina.

Merklinger became known for an aggressive style, using the free-guard zone rules introduced during the 1993-94 season to attack opponents.

"She was comfortable playing a more entertaining style when the rest of us, especially in the West, were reluctant to do that," McCusker said.

Merklinger plans to use the extra time to spend family time with husband, Don Michie, 16-year-old daughter Megan and 12-year-old son Connor.

"It's a time to do other things," she said. "Connor was in bantam zones this year ... and it just eats you up that you can't be there to cheer him on.

"I've played the game for a long time and played it hard. I just felt it was time."


Videos

Photos