Before Lyle Sieg heads home to Birch Bay, Washington, he’ll land at Powell River airport on Thursday, April 30, for an emotional group hug with family and friends.
For the past week Lyle’s wife Pam and mother Liz in Powell River, along with a legion of family and friends in North American, have been glued to the Internet as he skipped his American Men’s senior curling team, undefeated, to a world championship.
Not only was he a perfect 10-0 in the World Senior Curling Championships 2015 at Sochi, Russia but he overpowered the defending champion Canadians 9-4 in the final in just seven ends.
“Well, well...world champion...after 40 years, to win the last game of the year and we finally did it,” said Lyle in a story from the World Curling Federation. “I’m so proud of this team. All the work we’ve put in this year and to come out like this—that was fantastic.”
Playing alongside Lyle, were team members Tom Violette, Ken Trask, Steve Lundeen and alternate Duane Rutan, plus coach Greg Violette.
Lyle went on to say, “You spend your whole life from when you’re 15 to when you’re 60 curling and you just dream about throwing that last one, winning the game and finishing the year with a win. It’s so rare and I’m going to hold it dear forever.”
To mention the 45-year journey meant that he was probably thinking back to when his father, David, introduced him to the sport. Lyle’s father died a few years ago.
“His dad would have been very proud of him now,” said Liz. “I remember David telling me ‘I did what I wanted to do: I got Lyle involved with curling.’”
Others were also involved in Lyle’s choice of sport. “I thank our neighbour George Mostat for teaching me how to curl and I too now teach new people and would like to coach new kids in the future.”
That would have been when Lyle was in high school and he successfully joined with Paul Culos, Phil Carriere and Dean McDonald in 1977 to win the BC Schools Curling Association Boys’ Championship for Max Cameron Secondary School.
“When Lyle won the high schools’ in Prince George in ’77 we didn’t know what happened until they came home two days later,” said Liz.
Technology has advanced over the years. Jump ahead to 2015 at his mother’s house at Black Point, the two women in his life were hugging each other while crying and laughing with relief and excitement at Lyle’s world championship victory.
Both were awake at 4 am but while Liz nervously ignored championship information, her daughter-in-law was in bed checking the end scores until she emerged with the good news.
“I came out of my room and held two thumbs up,” recalled Pam, “and we just hugged each other.”
About the win, “It’s surprising and not surprising,” she said, “if that makes sense. I know they are good curlers but so many things can happen in these games. Obviously, they never had a bad game but I think Lyle said they had one bad end in the semifinal. But, to have just one bad end in a competition like this is just incredible.
“I was afraid to become overconfident,” Pam added, “but Lyle said they could do this and even this morning before the final he said the guys were playing really well.”
Added to her concerns was the opposition in the final, she said. “Of course going up against Canada I always think, I’m sure they are a good team. But, I found out that my husband is better.”
Upon graduation from Max Cameron, BCIT and University of BC, Lyle found employment in the US and became a dual citizen. That’s not a problem for his mother.
“It really didn’t come into it because I’m pulling for my son,” stressed Liz. “I have a hard time remembering he’s curling for the US team, but I’m cheering for Lyle first.”
As for Lyle himself, he too felt somewhat confused. “It was somewhat strange, the first time representing my new country,” he said. “I cheer for Team Canada in all sports events.” At the world championships, other teams including Australia and New Zealand had Canadian team members as well.
It was clearly evident that the family is fiercely proud of his achievement and also of their Powell River roots.
“In German, our last name ‘Sieg’ means victory,” said Liz, “and a Swiss player approached him and said ‘do you know what your name means?’ When Lyle said he did the fellow replied prophetically, ‘It’s a good name for a curler.’”
It’s also a good name for a road and Liz lent a historical note to the story. “We developed the property down here and they told us we could name the road after ourselves if we wanted to. I said...to call it Victory,” she said.
The impact of his win will surely be felt at his home Granite Curling Club in Seattle but when contacted the day he won there was barely recognition of his accomplishment.
While newspaper reports of his victory were common in Canada, his accomplishment appears to have been swallowed by various other American interests.
In Powell River, however, he will be met at the airport by representatives of Powell River Curling Club and other friends and well-wishers who are proud of his achievement and his roots.
Resumé of a curling champion
-Max Cameron Secondary School.
-Whitehorse (Purple Heart in 1981 Brier).
-University of BC.
-At 25, graduated civil engineer, married Pam, no
competitive curling for 10 years.
-At 35 moved to San Francisco, joined a curling club with
20 members and built it up to 200.
-As a non-American, could only play mixed from 2002
to 2013. Won two silver medals and one bronze medal
as skip of California in mixed nationals.
-2009 became US citizen mainly for commercial and
-Missed qualifying for Olympic trials by one shot as a
-Moved to Seattle at 50 and formed this team that
made the national semifinals twice and this year went
undefeated there and at Sochi. Played over 100 games
Catching up after many years
Phil Carriere was on the winning boys’ 1977 team with Sieg. Having grown up in Powell River, Carriere now lives in Richmond. Carriere wrote to the Peak April 18 to share his hopes for Sieg in the championships.
“I bumped into Lyle last weekend in Seattle at the Seattle Granite Curling Club as he and I had teams entered in the Spring Open Bonspiel that I have been playing in for a decade now. Had a chance to visit with him in the lounge and he is still the same, quiet, thoughtful guy he was back when we curled together 38 years ago. His career path took him into the US for many years in San Jose and recently to Everett and now Birch Bay. His time in Everett/Seattle included a lot of curling and he almost qualified for the 2010 Olympics for the US, narrowly losing in the final. It is a testament to Lyle’s persistence that he plays as well as he does now that we are in our mid-50s; a time when most guys are throttling it back into once-a-week club curling like I have done for many years now. I hope he does well.”