Alberta rink wins nailbiter with draw

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:05 AM ET

Someone get Colleen Jones on the horn, because you can bet Cheryl Bernard would love to take a run at her right now.

Bernard still has some work to if she's going to snap Jones's four-year reign as the Canadian women's curling champ, but no rink in the nation is hotter than hers.

Bernard drew to the button with the final rock of the 10th and final end to beat Shannon Kleibrink 7-6 in last night's all-Calgary final of the $50,000 Casinos of Winnipeg Women's Classic at Fort Rouge Curling Club.

Bernard, along with third Susan O'Connor, second Jody McNabb and lead Karen Ruus, earned $14,000 for the victory, which was their second in four starts this month. They won in Vernon, B.C., on Oct. 4, they were the runners-up in Calgary on Oct. 11 and they qualified in Kelowna last weekend.

"It's been a good year so far," Bernard said.

The skip had several rocks for backing with her final stone in the 10th, but that didn't make the pressure-packed shot any easier.

'REALLY CAREFUL'

"That's a tough one when you have backing," said Bernard, who won Alberta women's titles in 1992 and 1996 when her last name was Kullman. "Sometimes you can overthrow it and wick off. I've seen it happen a few times, so you have to be really careful. It was good that it worked out.

"... I'd rather have the straight draw than the backing honestly."

More important than the gobs of money they're raking in, however, are the Canadian Team Ranking System points that they're gobbling up. Last night's triumph moved Bernard and Co. from third to first on the list, which makes them the front runners for one of five remaining spots at next fall's Olympic trials.

"Everything's about points," Bernard said. "To go out every weekend and to qualify and to get to the finals and stuff, when the fields are this tough this year, it's a good testament to our team.

"But we can't get too ahead of ourselves."

Kleibrink, meanwhile, is just trying to keep busy until those trials arrive. She earned her berth last winter by being the top CTRS point getter.

"It's a really nice place to be," she said.

Kleibrink, who pocketed $10,000, was an A-side qualifier, so the setback last night was her first after six straight victories.

She had a chance to take a 7-6 lead coming home, but her takeout attempt in the ninth rolled out of the house and she had to settle for a single.

"That was a horrible, horrible slide," Kleibrink laughed. "... It was just bad. Not a good throw at all. You're going to have one of those every once in a while."


Videos

Photos