Rankin hopes for '02 deja vu

Angela MacIsaac -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:11 AM ET

Heather Rankin wouldn't mind a repeat of 2002. She didn't go home for Christmas that season and then found herself in the Alberta Scott Tournament of Hearts final.

Guess what?

She didn't head east for a family Noel this year.

"I went to a friend's in Saskatchewan instead of going home to Nova Scotia," Rankin said, laughing. "But last time I didn't go home, we went on to qualify out of southerns, so I think it's a good omen."

And if she needs any more luck for the women's southern Alberta playdowns in Airdrie this weekend, she only has to look as far as her own feet.

Under the Christmas tree, she found a new pair of socks, compliments of her partner's mother.

"They're the most amazing pair of curling socks," Rankin said. "They're so cool. They have curling rocks all over them and I think I'm going to wear them all weekend long. They should be another good-luck charm."

Good fortune may come in handy. There isn't one name on the draw that should be discounted, especially three of the big winners on the Women's Curling Tour.

Cheryl Bernard earned top-dollar honours with $41,850, while Renelle Bryden and defending provincial champ Shannon Kleibrink were in the top 10. Rankin snuck into the top 20, winning the Pot-O-Gold Classic in Lethbridge.

"Without a doubt, Calgary is tough," said Rankin. "We've got three world-class teams who've been chewing up the curling circuit this year.

"If you don't bring your 'A' game, you're toast."

Rankin has experience on her side.

She won the 1990 provincial title in Nova Scotia as a skip and then in 1993 as third for the incomparable Colleen Jones.

And she's finally feeling comfortable with the team she put together prior to last season.

"I played with the same third for six years in Carolyn Darbyshire and it takes a while to get used to a new third," she said, referring to Denise Kinghorn-Frey. "But things are really starting to gel."

Southerns action kicks off Friday at 10:30 a.m. Northerns are also this weekend at Ellerslie Curling Club in Edmonton.


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