Road To The Olympic Games

Curling

Bernard Olympic-bound after edging Kleibrink

Cheryl Bernard earned her first trip to the Olympics by defeating 2006 bronze medallist Shannon Kleibrink 7-6 to win the Canadian curling trials on Saturday night in Edmonton.

Cheryl Bernard is going to the Olympics.

The 43-year-old skip earned her first trip to the Winter Games by edging fellow Calgarian and 2006 Olympic bronze medallist Shannon Kleibrink 7-6 to win the Canadian curling trials on Saturday night in Edmonton.

It came down to the final stone, with a ticket to Vancouver on the line. Needing full eight-foot to beat Kleibrink's two shot stones, Bernard put a little more mustard on it than she should have. But her rock dug in and stopped just in time to give her the victory and touch off a teary-eyed celebration with teammates Susan O'Connor, Carolyn Darbyshire, Cori Bartel.

The win is the biggest of Bernard's career. She's never won a Tournament of Hearts — her best showing being a finals loss to Marilyn Bodogh in 1996.

"We lost some finals but we stuck with it and we won the big one finally, and I think it's worth all the pain we've gone through in the past four years," said Bernard, whose rink got to don Canadian colours for the playing of the national anthem at Rexall Place.

Despite her relatively empty trophy case, Bernard proved all week she was the best curler in Edmonton. She earned an automatic berth in the final by topping the round-robin with a 6-1 record, including an 8-5 win over two-time reigning Canadian champion Jennifer Jones, who missed the playoffs with a 2-5 mark.

"They were the best team all week and they sure played well in that game so I think they're going to be a great [representative] for Canada," said Kleibrink.

Kleibrink, the surprise winner of the 2005 trials, looked intent on showing that was no fluke. She finished second in the round-robin at 5-2 — one of those losses coming to Bernard — then beat Krista McCarville in the semifinal.

Kleibrink struggled with her draws for much of the final. But she placed one on the button with the final rock of the ninth to tie the game, and in the 10th willed another draw into place with the help of some vigorous sweeping to lie two and put the pressure on Bernard.

The men's final goes Sunday afternoon. Glenn Howard faces Kevin Martin in a battle of the world's top two-ranked skips.

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