HALIFAX -- Curling, it has been said, would be a better game if it had bodychecking.
Yesterday it did.
"She was going down the ice backward and I didn't see her and ...''
Glenys Bakker rocked Shannon Kleibrink with the hit. Trouble is they play for the same team.
It was the 10th end. The game was tied. The winner would go to today's final against Kelly Scott of Kelowna.
And the only player on the Calgary rink which waited eight years to get back to the same game they lost to Sandra Schmirler prior to the Nagano Olympics, was suddenly in jeopardy because of a bodycheck.
"The way she grabbed her neck, I thought 'Oh my. What have I done? It'll throw her off. She won't make the shot,'' said Bakker.
Kleibrink shook it off. She made such a great shot it didn't leave anything for Saskatoon's Stefanie Lawton to shoot at with her last rock.
"It was a pistol,'' said Bakker.
ONE WIN AWAY
Kleibrink won the game 5-4 and is one win away from getting to the Olympics she didn't get to eight years ago when Schmirler made what Kleibrink calls "the greatest shot ever made.''
Kleibrink, off to a 1-3 start in the 'Roar of the Rings' Olympic Trials, won her sixth straight because of a shot that Lawton missed an end early - a shot she missed noticing.
"It was a nose hit for three and she didn't see it,'' said Kleibrink, a skip who hasn't managed to defeat Scott the last five times they played.
There are different ways of dealing with the stress of curling's most stressful competition, but Kleibrink says they've dealt with it by not dealing with it.
"We go to the Patch and have a couple of beers. We've gone to the casino a couple times. I'm up $50 of my husband's money playing blackjack. We've gone to a lot of great restaurants and we've eaten a lot of lobster.''
Every member of the rink has their own story in getting to this game. Third Amy Nixon says she's still trying to get over the idea she's here much less wrap her head around going to Torino for the Olympics.
"I've never played in a championship east of Grande Prairie. Or is Red Deer east of Grande Prairie? I guess it is.''
Nixon was getting emotional after the win about not bringing the team down despite the fact she's articling as a lawyer.
"To me, I kept thinking it was like Tiger Woods when he got married and everybody was saying 'Let's see how good he is now?'
"But I don't have a four-month-old baby. What do I have to complain about.''
Bakker has the four-month-old.
"At my age, I should know better,'' said the 43-year-old, holding her daughter Sara after the game. "But she's a beautiful surprise and she's travelled with us everywhere. I've been breast- feeding here on the fifth-end break every game. She's pretty efficient. Gets it done in four minutes. I like the TV games better now, though. We get eight minutes.''
Like Kleibrink, she says it's amazing to get a second chance after what happened eight years ago as Schmirler beat them in the final and went on to Nagano to win gold.
'TWO KIDS AND A LONG TIME LATER'
"It's two kids and a long time later,'' she said.
Lead Christine Keshen just joined the team. She substituted for a few regional spiels last year and suddenly found herself a member of the team.
"This is only the second time I've played in an arena,'' she said. "I don't know if I'll sleep tonight or not. I don't care if I'll sleep tonight or not. I'm the freshest chicken here.''