Bernard enjoys an early bounty

ANGELA MacISAAC -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:07 AM ET

Cheryl Bernard certainly feels like she has started the curling season off on the right foot.

Her team's bank account is $5,300 richer after a victory at the Twin Anchors-Prestige Inn Cashpiel in Vernon, B.C., last weekend.

Now she has her eye on the $14,000 victory purse at this weekend's 27th annual Autumn Gold Invitational at the Calgary Curling Club.

The action gets underway today at 9 a.m. with the final set for 3 p.m. Monday.

"Everything just clicked," she said of the victory, her first in five years on the Women's Curling Tour. "It all came together. We just have to do that a few more times this season but there's no guarantee it'll be this weekend."

Bernard, third Susan O'Connor and lead Karen Ruus welcomed second Jody McNabb into the fold. McNabb replaces Joanne Sipka on the team, which finished fourth at the provincial Scott Tournament of Hearts in January.

McNabb, said Bernard, is better able to commit to the gruelling schedule heading into the last season to qualify for the Canadian Olympic trials, Dec. 3-11, 2005, in Halifax.

"We're going for six weekends in a row," said Bernard. "We're playing this weekend and, Wednesday, we leave for Kelowna. This is the last year to qualify for the Olympic trials so we have to be ready. Everyone is going to be very intense this year."

So, there's no way Bernard and crew can ride the glory of one victory through the rest of the season. They had that very chat with coach Dennis Balderston Wednesday night.

"We realize we have to be aggressive every weekend," Bernard said. "But we also have to worry about getting burnt out. Relaxing is an art."

QUESTION ANSWERED: There aren't any permanent changes to Shannon Kleibrink's rink.

In the program for the Autumn Gold, a question mark sits where third Amy Nixon's name is normally typed.

"No, there's no dirt to tell," said Kleibrink, the defending provincial women's champion. "Her brother's getting married this weekend."

Glenys Bakker will take over third duties for the cash spiel while Stephanie Marchand will stay in her position at lead.

Medicine Hat's Vicki Sjole comes in to help out at second.

Kleibrink's foursome wasn't among the money winners in Vernon last weekend but the skip is working hard to make sure that doesn't happen again.

"It wasn't the greatest start but we had some bad luck," she said. "My very last rock picked on me. But I've been throwing rocks at the (Calgary curling) club during lunch and the ice feels really good."


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