Curling Canada | And the legend passes

Ron Anton, left, and teammates, from left, Warren Hansen, Darrel Sutton and Hec Gervais in action at the 1974 Silver Broom in Switzerland. (Photo, Michael Burns Sr.)

Ron Anton, former Brier champion and longtime coach, has died


It’s hard enough to make a name for yourself in any sport, but every once in a while there are special people who manage to make a name for themselves on multiple levels.

It was Ron Anton. Recruited as a teenager to play for legendary captain Hec Gervais, Anton went on to have an exceptional curling career in Alberta as a player, coach, innovator, administrator and, above all, a winner.

Ron Anton participated in the opening ceremony of the 2013 Brier in Edmonton. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns Jr.)

“Ron was an interesting guy,” said Warren Hansen, reflecting on the life of his former teammate and friend who died at the age of 82 Saturday (Nov. 11) in Chilliwack, British Columbia. “He was a calm and sober guy. He had a dry sense of humor, so if you didn’t know him, you’d think he was angry. But he wasn’t. He was very serious and very determined. He was the best player I ever played with.

Anton, who was born and raised in Medicine Hat, Alberta, competed in three Canadian Men’s Curling Championships as a third for Gervais, winning two of them in 1961 and 1974. Anton was just 19 years old when he helped Gervais, second Ray Werner and lead Wally. Ursuliak wins Brier 61 at the Calgary Stampede Corral. Anton set the record which still stands as the youngest player to win the Brier.

Anton remained in Canada to study for exams as the team won the Scotch Cup World Championship in Scotland, with Vic Raymer playing third.

“He was the only curler I knew,” Hansen said, “who won a Canadian championship and didn’t go to the world championships.”

The same team returned to the Brier the following year, but lost in the three-team playoff for the Tankard, won by Saskatchewan’s Ernie Richardson.

It wasn’t until 1974 that Anton (after spending five years jumping from his own team) returned to the Brier with Gervais, this time with Hansen in second and Darrel Sutton leading. The team won in London but was surprised at the world championship in Bern, Switzerland, in difficult ice conditions.

Gervais attracted all the press because of his talent for such a man, but Anton played a big role in his success. Legendary sports scribe Jack Matheson once wrote that Anton was a tower of strength in the third row and that Gervais leaned heavily on him, “which indicated that Anton must be the strongest third, because when Hec s “presses against a building, it moves”.

Gerry Peckham, Curling Canada’s former director of high performance, saw plenty of Anton play against him in big-money tournaments in British Columbia and at the Brier, and says he was a formidable opponent.

“He was the first curler I can remember who could slide in a perfectly balanced way without using a broom,” Warren Hansen said. “It took a bit of work because it required a certain degree of flexibility in the ankle and hip.” (Photo, Michael Burns Sr.)

“He had a level of intensity and focus that was beyond anything I had ever experienced and he had a skill set to back it up,” Peckham said. “He threw the stone as pure as it could be thrown. And he was a great sweeper.

“He was an incredible all-around athlete.”

Anton’s ability to throw rocks came largely from the way he developed his balanced throw, turning his sliding foot to the left to allow his body to move behind the rock – much like a throw band.

“He was the first curler I can remember who was able to slide perfectly balanced without using a broom,” said Hansen, who served as director of events operations for Curling Canada until 2015. “It took a lot of effort. little work because it required a certain degree of flexibility in the ankle and hip.

Anton was also the first curler to use a slider on his heel.

“He had a huge impact on the way stone was delivered,” Hansen said.

Anton, a high school teacher and principal, then became involved in creating an education system for instructors and coaches in Canada, which was the sport’s first participation in the National Coaching Certification Program.

Anton was a first class coach. In 1967, he guided Stan Trout’s Alberta team to the Canadian Men’s High School Championship and coached Alberta’s Cathy Shaw to the 1982 Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

Anton’s involvement in the game didn’t stop there. He was a member of the five-person National Team Program Committee that determined Canada’s representatives at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, where curling was a demonstration sport. He coached men’s curling at those Games and spent several years as head of Canada’s national men’s curling team.

“He was a true student of every aspect of the game,” Peckham said. “Not everyone would have seen all the facets of what he brought to the sport of curling. »

Anton was inducted into the Canadian Curling Hall of Fame in 1975.

Alec Dittman

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