As the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics continue to play out, memories of games past start to slide back in.
Three-time Olympic curler Kelly Shaefer remembered what the games were like when she went in 2006, 2010, and 2018 as a member of Team Great Britain.
Shaefer, who now lives in Swift Current, is originally from Scotland, where curling wasn't something she learned in school or with a club like many here did, but with her family when they got together to play.
"I began curling when I was about, I think six or seven," recalled Shaefer. "All of my family curled. Traditionally my grandparents were farmers, and that's how the Scottish people did get into curling with that agricultural background. I would play with my brother and sister actually, and my younger sister, and I would always go along to the ice rink when the rest of the family were playing."
Shaefer went on to win a number of championships at the junior level and would keep winning on her way to representing Scotland at the World Championships. Then when the 2006 Olympic Games in Torino, Italy came about, she was selected to represent Great Britain in women's curling.
"I remember walking into the open ceremonies of the 2006 Olympics and it was the most amazing experience that anybody could ever go to," Shaefer reminisced. "I think it was just a cloud, like, just to hear everybody cheering on the country."
During the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, she was really enamoured by the Olympic Village, the opening ceremony, and the Canadian people present during the games. She stayed waterside in brand new accommodations built for the games and was able to walk freely through the village and interact with her fellow athletes and teammates.
"The 2010 Olympics, by comparison, was just hands down the best event I've ever gone to," asserted Shaefer.
By the end of all the excitement, the closing ceremony should have been a ceremonial affair.
"Then we had the closing ceremonies, (but) Canada and America played the gold medal hockey game at that time as well," re-lived Shaefer. "So we had to wait till that was finished before we could go to the closing ceremonies. We knew they won, because as we walked around the Olympic Village just waiting, the sound of the entire City of Vancouver roared and erupted, because of everybody who was glued to this game. It was like thunder in the sky."
Shortly after the 2010 games, Shaefer moved to Canada, right here in Swift Current.
Then, after an interim period of not being able to participate in any curling, she went back to the Olympics in 2018 with Team Great Britain in Pyeongchang. There, they lost in the bronze medal game.
Shaefer inferred that for a lot of Olympians, they will not have multiple chances like she did to compete. She encouraged any young athletes to make sure they enjoy competing at the highest stage. Performing at the level of world-class athletes can be dazzling as you feel the pressure of representing your nation to billions around the world. The expectations that come with wearing the Olympic rings on your back is balanced out by the pride of the accomplishment they entail.