Kleibrink crew on a high

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 12:56 PM ET

HALIFAX -- The two great shots that Amy Nixon threw in the 10th end belied the emotions that were churning inside the Alberta third.

First, Nixon made a difficult double kill, then followed it up with a hit-and-roll behind cover to get Shannon Kleibrink out of trouble. And when the smoke cleared, Kleibrink clipped Saskatchewan's Stefanie Lawton 5-4 in the women's semifinal of the Canadian Curling Trials at the Halifax Metro Centre yesterday afternoon.

"It was almost a feeling of being high," Nixon said, her voice choking with emotion as she realized her foursome is now just one win away from a trip to the Olympics. "I sat down on my second one and I actually had to close my eyes and take a deep breath, which I've never had to do before.

"Obviously, there's a lot at stake and there's a lot of emotional management. I've worked too hard and too long to not (make them). But it was an awesome two shots, I felt great about them."

Lawton, 25, was still trying to come to grips with her own Olympic dream dying.

"It definitely is hard," she admitted. "It's nothing to hang our heads about, that's for sure. Shannon's a great curler. She's been around for a number of years. In '97 in trials, she lost the final and they definitely want this. It's a great opportunity for them.

"We curled our hearts out and just weren't able to win this game. But we know we're a young team and we're definitely going to be here again. We're going to stay together and I'm getting back to the 2009 trials."

LOST 1997 TRIALS FINAL

Kleibrink, who lost the 1997 trials final to Saskatchewan's legendary Sandra Schmirler, faces B.C.'s transplanted Manitoban Kelly Scott in today's noon final, to be televised by CBC.

"There's been a lot of games since '97 but it is always there in the back of your mind," conceded Kleibrink, who quit her job to focus on this Olympic qualifier.

"I know when we qualified for this at the Scott in '04, Shannon showed a lot of emotion at that time," Nixon said. "They've (Kleibrink and second Glenys Bakker) done an excellent job of not focusing on that (1997 loss). They're looking at it as an opportunity. We've had quite a bit of time to prepare ourselves, now it's just one more game."

The younger Scott has beaten Kleibrink five straight times.

"It's not like she's inexperienced," said Kleibrink, 37. "They're a very good young team. There won't be any junior mistakes out there. She's been to the Scott before and she's been kind of tough. I don't think this is anything she can't handle. She's a very calm, cool skip.

"They have the hammer so I guess they have the advantage."

Kleibrink has won six straight matches since opening the trials at 1-3.

"I don't think you can go on past history," said Scott, 28.

"It's a one-game deal and anyone can win. We start with the hammer, which is a lot of feeling of comfort.

"If we are fortunate enough to win, we'd look at each other with awe because it is something you dream about and a dream-come-true would be unreal."

Lawton advanced to the semifinal by beating Ontario's Sherry Middaugh 9-4 in a morning tie-breaker.

BITERS -- Manitoba second Jill Officer revealed that she suffered from a suspected kidney stone a month before heading to these trials ... Halifax is closing in on surpassing Regina's trials attendance record of 143,187. After the women's semifinal, the total attendance was 134,253.


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