By Martin Cleary
As a financial advisor, Craig Savill knows about diversification.
It’s the same on the athletic side of his life today, as he remains an athlete, continues to be a coach and has gladly assumed the role of volunteer.
A four-time world curling champion with two junior and a pair of senior men’s titles to his credit, Savill tried to qualify at the end of January for the 2023 Canadian men’s Brier to represent Prince Edward Island, which has been his family’s home province for the past 16 months.
He’s also a coach and will be alongside the Czech Republic rink skipped by Lukas Klima, when the world men’s curling championship opens April 1 in Ottawa at TD Place Arena.
But currently, the former Manotick resident is playing a key role as a volunteer in presenting the curling competition at the Canada Winter Games, which are running throughout P.E.I. until March 5 and features the future stream of Canadian high-performance, amateur athletes.
Organizers of the 2023 Canada Winter Games have recruited 5,000 volunteers (about three per cent of the P.E.I. population) for the two-week sports festival for athletes in 20 sports and that list includes Savill and his wife Karen Cumberland.
Savill, 44, is serving as event co-ordinator for men’s, women’s and mixed curling, which will be held at two different sites. He’s responsible for having everything in place (i.e. timers, scorekeepers, officials, etc.) for the matches.
His Games schedule also will include being a commentator during live-streaming broadcasts of various curling playoff matches.
Cumberland, who grew up on the island and is the executive director of her own company, Prince Edward Island Alliance for Mental Well-Being, will be an announcer at the artistic gymnastics competitions.
Their two children are thrilled with their parents’ assignments as Aiden, 12, enjoys curling as well as golf and flag football, while Elsa, nine, has interests in gymnastics and soccer.
“We wanted to do it,” Savill said about becoming Games volunteers. “It’s good to give back to all the volunteers who helped me. There are so many people who have helped to put on this event. It certainly was an easy decision.”
Living in Kensington, P.E.I., population 1,500, the Savill family also will travel around the province to watch several different sports.
“The kids want to watch and follow us around. It also will be a busy two weeks of watching and driving,” added Savill, who is a co-chair for the P.E.I. 55+ Summer Games Sept. 20-23.
Coming up next for Savill will be the world men’s curling championships, which will be staged for the first time in his hometown of Ottawa. Saville has been the coach of the Czech Republic national team skipped by Klima for four years.
Team Klima, which finished ninth at the 2022 world championships, qualified for this year’s worlds by placing seventh at the European championships in November. The top eight European teams advanced to the Ottawa worlds.
Klima, third Marek Cernovsky, second Radek Bohac, lead Lukas Klipa and alternate Martin Jurik opened the Europeans at 0-3, but rallied to place seventh at 3-6. The European qualifiers by rank (first to eighth) are: Scotland, Switzerland, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Turkey, Czech Republic and Germany.
“I’m really excited,” Saville said about returning to the TD Place Arena for his fourth world championship, after winning the gold medal in 2007 and 2012 as lead for the Glenn Howard rink.
“We had a bad start at Europeans at 0-3, losing some games that we shouldn’t have lost. But we beared down. Our goal was to qualify for worlds. We’re back again and that’s good for the country.”
Savill takes his coaching seriously.
“It will be fun at worlds in one of the best countries out there,” stated the A.Y. Jackson Secondary School grad. “They worked hard and it got to me. I wish I was out there playing. I find I’m stretching before games. I catch myself.”
Having the 2023 world men’s championship at TD Place Arena will bring back a lot of heart-warming memories for Savill.
There was a possibility Savill could have played at the worlds. He was the third for the Adam Casey rink at the P.E.I. men’s tankard championship. But the rink’s 3-3 record didn’t advance it to the provincial playoffs for a chance to participate in his 11th Brier.
In late 2015, Savill was diagnosed with lymphoma cancer and he was undergoing chemotherapy treatments when the 2016 Brier was in Ottawa.
As a true spirit-of-sport gesture, Ontario skip Glenn Howard invited Savill to be the honourary alternate for his team and allowed him to throw two lead stones in the eighth end against Team Canada’s Pat Simmons.
It was an unprecedented gesture, which was agreed to by the curlers involved. It meant the world to Savill, who found it physically taxing but mentally rewarding.
“It was an experience I will never forget,” Savill said. “It was a very emotional time.
“I was in the middle of my cancer treatments and it was dragging on. This gave me a boost of energy to get through the treatments.”
Savill’s cancer returned in 2021, but he has since returned to good health and keeps in contact with his oncologist.
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 50 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the High Achievers “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com and on Twitter @martincleary.
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