Packing a one-two punch

TODD SAELHOF, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:07 AM ET

Never mind that they are Nos. 1 and 1A among Calgary's women rinks.

Cheryl Bernard and Shannon Kleibrink have proven they are the top two female teams in Canada, ranked differently depending on the day.

And when they get together, it's been a battle befitting of two queens.

"We have to dig deep whenever we play them," said Bernard, who now holds the upperhand this season after scoring an uppercut of Kleibrink at the $60,000 Wayden Transportation Ladies Classic in Abbotsford, B.C.

Bernard and her rink of third Susan O'Connor, second Carolyn Derbyshire and lead Cori Bartel destroyed Kleibrink 10-2 in an 'A' event qualifier Saturday night to gain a ticket to yesterday's playoffs.

"You want to stay on top of teams, especially Shannon's because she's in our province," Bernard said. "But you don't really ever get a psychological edge against them. It's anybody's game at this level of curling."

While Bernard and Co. fell shy of capturing the event title yesterday -- losing to Saskatoon's Stefanie Lawton in a 7-6, extra-end semifinal -- the earlier win over the Kleibrink crew should push them past their Calgary counterpart in the CTRS standings, a key determinant in helping decide Olympic contenders for the 2010 Vancouver Games.

Heading into the World Curling Tour Grand Slam spiel in Abbotsford, Kleibrink held a slim 5.8-point margin on Bernard. At 126.900 and 121.100 points respectively, Kleibrink and Bernard went into the weekend miles ahead of third-place Kelly Scott, who held 82.650 points.

The rink with the most CTRS points accumulated this season automatically gains a spot in the 2009 Roar of the Rings, which are the Olympic curling trials next December in Edmonton.

"It's a big year for lots of reasons," Bernard said. "So we're not trying to look too far ahead."

So far, so good.

Bernard has pocketed $35,000 through 10 weeks of the WCT schedule, second only to -- you guessed it -- Kleibrink with $41,200.

"It sounds cliched, but it's because of tons of hard work," said Bernard of her rink's success so far. "It's our fourth year together, and one thing I've noticed is we don't panic much out on the ice. It shows the maturity of our team.

"It's great to start off strong, but the struggle is to maintain it."

After all, there is that carrot of the Olympics out there.

"And the Scotts," added Bernard of her affinity for the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the women's national championship. "The Olympics come once every four years, but every year you can go to the Scotts, and I want that. It would be nice to visit Korea (for the worlds), too."

EXTRA ENDS

Bernard took home $8,000 from the Grand Slam event, while Lawton lost 9-2 to Winnipeg's Jennifer Jones in last night's final in Abbotsford ... In men's WCT action, the $100,000 Grand Slam event in Waterloo, Ont., saw Glenn Howard win his third consecutive Masters of Curling title Sunday. He defeated former Calgary curler Kevin Koe 4-3 in an extra end to pocket $24,500. En route to the final, Koe edged Kevin Martin, with Calgarians John Morris and Ben Hebert, 6-5 in quarterfinal action ... Four teams sit tied atop the standings of the Calgary Premier Super League. Lloyd Hill (Good Earth Cafes), Mickey Pendergast (Team Pendergast), Greg Anholt (Team Anholt) and Dave Rutherford (Team Rutherford) all sport 5-1 records after Anholt knocked off previously undefeated Hill 7-2 last week. Other scores were: Rutherford 5, Dean Ross 3; Pendergast 11, Jackie Brett 2; Kevin Yablonski 9, Diane Foster 7; Allan Kent 6, David Simpson 4; Sean O'Connor 1, Brittany Gregor 0; Frank Bailey 9, Crystal Webster 7; and Steve Mackey 8, Brett Zubot 7.

LAST ROCK

The tour heads north this week to Whitehorse, Yukon, where the Skookum WCT Cash Spiel pits 24 teams vying for $50,000 in cash. Among the teams is Edmonton's Chris Schille, with Didsbury's Charley Thomas throwing skip rocks. Another WCT men's event is the $40,000 Wainwright Roaming Buffalo Classic ... Bernard, meanwhile, is the only Calgary women's rink slated to play in the 2008 SunLife Financial Invitational Classic in Brantford, Ont., where $47,000 is up for grabs beginning Friday.


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