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This Moose Jaw curler is still rocking at 99

Staying active one of Moose Jaw curler's keys to longevity
When it comes to experience on the curling ice, few players are going to come out ahead of Moose Jaw's Mickey Gower.

If you take up a sport before the Second World War and are still playing in 2019, there's a pretty good chance you're going to have a bit more ice time under your belt than the average player.

So, there Gower was on a chilly Thursday morning at the Moose Jaw Ford Curling Centre, curling stick in hand, as she answered questions from the assembled media about just how she does it after so many years. Because when you're 99 years old – that's right, 99 – and still playing any sport, you're going to attract a bit of attention.

“It was just something fun to do so we started doing it,” Gower explained when asked about her beginnings in curling back in her hometown of Central Butte.

“I started curling in high school, but we never had an opportunity to get a rink together to do anything. Back then you have to have your own rocks and my dad had two of them, but they were too heavy. So we had to rush to the rink to get the lighter ones if we could get them... we were pretty young, which is why they were so heavy for us; I think they were about 43 pounds if I remember right.”

Rock trouble aside, Gower's love for the game took root and never let up. Once she married and had a family there wasn't as much time for the sport – but once the kids were out of the house and there were a few more openings, it was back on the ice regularly. And since 1955, Gower has been a fixture on the pebble and at the curling club, even if she's not quite as busy these days.

“I loved it, I loved the sociability to it and I loved competing... I like to win,” Gower said with a laugh. “We used to go to the southern playdowns all the time, with two or three different rinks, when I was curling with curlers who were quite a bit better than me. And we curled in a lot of bonspiels, we won quite a few prizes over the years. Now I come to watch quite a bit, have coffee, and socialize.”

Like many recreational curlers, the end of winter didn't mean the end of sports for Gower. No, that was when the golf links would come calling, and you could find Gower on the course in summer almost as often as she was on the ice in winter.

That even includes last summer, when she played the Deer Ridge Par 3 layout.

“I think as long as I keep going and doing these things, I believe I'll stay healthy,” Gower said. “That's always important.”

Mickey's son Gregg has watched his mom on the ice over the years and has plenty of memories of her doing her thing when he was a kid.

“At the old curling rink we would sit in the chairs and watch mom and dad curl on Sunday mornings,” he said. “They had a very good time. They bonspieled a lot. They’d go around and my dad would be the chauffeur and the husbands of the others gals would be chauffeurs.”

Gower's dedication to the sport not only as a curler but as a coach and supporter drew the attention of CurlSask in 2017 when she was inducted into the province's Legends of Curling hall of fame.

Gower isn't quite as active on the ice these days. But the fact she can still play is testament to a implement that has rapidly grown in popularity – the aforementioned curling stick.

“I don't get out on the ice as much, but it's great that they have the stick curling,” Gower said. “A lot of our limbs and backs and knees go, so standing and throwing is a lot easier.”

Gower turns 100 in July. There will be a celebration, of course, currently being organized by family and friends. Well wishers will abound, with many thinking of the diminutive matriarch of Moose Jaw curling much the same way son Gregg does.

“She's my hero and always will be.”

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