Kleibrink wins Cup in thriller

ANGELA MACISAAC -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:06 AM ET

KAMLOOPS, B.C. -- On her way to Sport Mart Place yesterday morning, Bonnie Nixon picked up a penny. She never does but she thought it would bring her daughter's team good luck. Now, she may have to hold onto that copper.

With Amy Nixon at third, Shannon Kleibrink's Calgary foursome hung on for a 7-6 victory over Regina's Jan Betker in the Strauss Canada Cup women's final, earning a $33,500 prize.

But the 27-year-old Nixon wasn't sure it was the biggest win of her career.

"Ooh, it's close to the provincials last year," she said.

"That was a big win with everything that was going on in my personal life."

While the Kleibrink team was winning the Alberta provincial playdowns in Calgary, Nixon's mother was in an Edmonton hospital recovering from brain surgery.

And having Mom in Kamloops yesterday put some icing on the cake. "It's nice to have her here," Nixon said with a smile.

Betker didn't come around enough on a freeze attempt in the third end, leaving Kleibrink an open hit for three.

But it's never that easy against a skip like Betker, who won 1998 Olympic gold in Nagano, Japan, with the late Sandra Schmirler.

Betker dug in and gained a 6-5 lead with a deuce in the ninth.

Kleibrink drew into the button on her first shot in the 10th but Betker, clock-watching with only 51 seconds on her side, didn't quite get the freeze she wanted.

Kleibrink was left with a tapback for two and the win.

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POPULAR SEQUEL: It's just what the crowd wanted.

Anyone who missed yesterday's all-Edmonton Page 1 playoff game between Randy Ferbey and Kevin Martin will get another chance to see the clash of arch-rivals at 10:30 a.m. today (CBC).

Martin, beaten 7-5 by Ferbey in the Page 1 game, survived the semifinal 8-7 against Winnipeg's Jeff Stoughton.

Ferbey earned a bye into the final.

Knowing he already had his Olympic trials berth in the bag, Martin admitted he was a little more relaxed.

"Yes, definitely less stressful," said Martin, who used a three-ender in the eighth to jump ahead 7-6. "Still not a very well played curling game but a close game."

Stoughton stole two in an extra end to beat fellow Winnipegger Kerry Burtnyk 7-5 in the Page 2 game.

With Burtnyk's loss, Martin was assured of a trials berth as top three in the Canada Cup. Ontario's Glenn Howard earns the Canadian Team Ranking System standings berth. Stoughton and Ferbey already have theirs.

Said Martin: "After the last two years of training all summer, we're close to getting back to Olympics. Now we have a light at the end of the tunnel to work towards."


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