Silver and gold

GEORGE KARRYS, For QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:29 AM ET

How to summarize Canada's Olympic curling performances, which encompassed 12 days of hometown Olympic madness, including the gold medal finales?

It can't really be done, properly, but we shall try.

Yoda said: "There is no try, only do." Cheryl Bernard had being doing, not trying, game in and game out for a couple of months, now.

Bernard became known for her remarkable calm and knack for executing under pressure. She consistently marched toward her goal of throwing the last stone for the win in the final end, game after game. The mostly unheralded Calgary skip delivered multiple times at both the trials and again through the round-robin of the Olympic Winter Games.

Until the playoffs.

A brief aside for a Curling 101: This kind of stuff takes a toll on a skip, who is also charged with most of the mental gymnastics of the team's strategy, for three hours at a time. Toss in whispers of pressure and a cold that wouldn't go away and Bernard just wasn't herself, finally, in the semi and final.

Mirjam Ott's Swiss outfit simply played worse in the semifinal, and so they lost.

In the final, Sweden's Anette Norberg, the defending Olympic champion, delivered some shocking misses and strategic weirdness of her own. The game seesawed back and forth and in the end, Bernard had not one but two shots for the win, one in the 10th end and another in the extra.

Perhaps now vulnerable, as mentally naked as millions of new curling fans wished she was in a pinup calendar, she missed them both.

Kevin Martin, who was watching in the crowd, knows the feeling. The much-decorated Martin faced another Norwegian team in the men's final the next day, eight years after missing his last shot for gold at Salt Lake 2002.

That was then, and this is now. Four years ago the Edmonton skip assembled a young team of fearless curling automatons, who deliver at least 80% shooting efficiency on their worst days.

And Martin feeds off such ruthless efficiency. He works his aging body just as hard as Bernard, who received all the fitness press (and marriage proposals) and he simply lives for the pressure-packed curling moment. He's experienced so many of them, and he keeps coming back for more.

The squad went undefeated in the round robin and thumped Sweden's youthful Nik Edin in the semifinal.

Early on in the final against Thomas (Fancy Pants) Ulsrud of Norway, The Old Bear lashed out at his cubs. A deuce was missed, a single was forced and two rare sweeping errors raised his ire. Kevin Martin was grumpy.

He was still grumping with a 3-0 lead at the break.

As the entire country knows, Martin's men picked up the pace and cruised to a 6-3 victory. Whereupon Martin's scowls turned to joyful smiles, easily the biggest he's ever dared to share on the ice.

Kevin Martin had finally slain his demons.

GEORGE KARRYS, AN OLYMPIAN, IS: CURLINGURU.COM


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