Diane Foster is learning the hard way there's more to life than curling.
But the Calgary curler is also recognizing how the sport is helping her cope with life itself.
Foster is feeling the effects of family adversity on two fronts. Not long after her mom died, her sister was diagnosed with cancer.
The news of both followed hard on the heels of Foster celebrating the finest moment of her curling career. Back in March, the Calgarian won the senior women's title in Finland.
"When I was winning, I was on top of the world," Foster said. "It was a big deal -- you get the same feeling winning the worlds in seniors as you do winning the ladies' or men's. It's a world-class field.
"But I went from one week of joy because I was on top of the world to such a low."
And suddenly, just months after being crowned a world champion, she wondered how -- or even if -- curling was going to fit into a life rife by personal turmoil.
Then, along came the current campaign with the answer -- and, really, a fresh slate.
"You have to come back with that mental toughness," Foster said. "With everything else going on in life, you think curling is so irrelevant.
"But then you get out there and get the juices flowing and you're able to put aside all the family issues."
It hasn't hurt her rejuvenation to have a few new goals on her curling agenda.
With the senior world title tucked firmly in her back pocket -- thanks to help from Lethbridge curlers Shirley MacPherson, Shirley Kohuch and Chris Wilson -- Foster is focused once again on trying to assert herself among the women, with a keen interest in representing Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.
She may be 52 years old, but Foster points to other 50-somethings who have shown the young stars of the sport a thing or two. Specifically, she has taken her cue from Russ Howard, who was 50 when he won the Olympic gold medal at the 2006 Turin Games with Brad Gushue's Canadian rink.
"It's a big challenge to have won a worlds in seniors then try to prove something in ladies," Foster said. "People think you're not going to win -- I think I can.
"There's never a sure thing -- you get to the Olympic Trials, and anybody can win. Russ Howard proved that age doesn't matter."
So Foster's surrounded herself with youth -- mostly a rink-by-committee -- in trying to secure a spot in the 2009 Olympic Trials next December in Edmonton. Her front end has little high-profile experience from which to draw, although she does boast who she feels is the best third around these parts.
"She's probably the strongest third I've had," said Foster of third Glenys Bakker. "Experience-wise and everything, she's a big asset.
"The front end (including Lisa Otto, Jennifer Coutts and Wendy Siminoe) comes with limited experience -- nothing won on the national level. But it makes it exciting to see them excited about playing these other (high-profile) teams. The girls have just seen them on TV, and all of a sudden, they're face-to-face with them on the ice. But they realize they are just another team and they are beatable."
Leslie Rogers lost yesterday in the semi-finals of the $34,000 Strauss Crown of Curling event in Kamloops, B.C. The Calgary skip and her rink pocketed $4,000 at the Asham World Curling Tour stop ... On the $48,000 men's side of the Strauss Crown, Calgary's Dan Petryk bowed out in the quarter-finals to collect $4,000 ... Calgary's Maria Bushell showed well at the 2008 Meyers Norris Penny Charity Classic, a WCT stop worth $25,000 in Medicine Hat. She took home $2,100 after losing in the event's quarter-final.
Calgary's Shannon Kleibrink tries to stretch her perfect 3-0 start in WCT events to four victories at the 2008 Casinos of Winnipeg Classic. The Grand Slam event begins Friday at the Fort Rouge Curling Club, with $62,000 up for grabs. Fellow Calgary Winter Club skip Cheryl Bernard is among the entries looking to stop Kleibrink's hot start to the season.