'Brink of success

ANGELA MACISAAC -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:34 AM ET

Eight years is a long time to wait.

But Shannon Kleibrink got her redemption yesterday, winning the right to represent Canada in women's curling at the Turin Winter Olympics, Feb. 10-26.

Kleibrink, third Amy Nixon, second Glenys Bakker and lead Christine Keshen took three in the 10th to beat Kelly Scott of Kelowna 8-7 in the women's final of the Canadian Olympic trials in Halifax.

"This is amazing," Kleibrink told the Sun via cellphone yesterday, just seconds after stepping out of doping control.

"I just can't believe it.

"We haven't seen our friends and family yet. They let me hug (my husband Richard) once before they took me to doping."

The 37-year-old skip, who finished second in the round-robin, was head of a different rink at the 1997 trials in Brandon, where she lost to the late Sandra Schmirler, who went on to win curling's inaugural Olympic gold medal in Nagano, Japan.

Schmirler fired a pistol in the seventh for a three-ender to beat Kleibrink 9-7 but, yesterday, it was Kleibrink set up for three against Scott.

"It was so nice to have the winning shot in your hand, instead of in someone else's," said Kleibrink, who chipped out Scott's shot rock on the top of the 4-ft. to clinch the trials title.

Kleibrink held a 5-3 lead through six ends but Scott came back with a deuce in the seventh end and stole points in the eighth and ninth to take a two-point lead. Scott's lead, Renee Simons, left a short guard in front of the house and Bakker took advantage.

"Glenys made an awesome chip and roll behind a double corner guard," said Kleibrink. "That's what got it all started for us. As soon as that rock stopped, I knew we had a chance to win the game, not just tie it.

"We decided from that point to go for three."

Bakker got her just reward, too. The Canadian Curling Association allowed the mother of two to bring her four-month-old daughter, Sara, onto the medal podium.

"She won't remember this," said Bakker, who spent a busy week curling and rushing to nurse and care for her baby. "But there are pictures.

"She was a great distraction. I'd go back to the hotel and watch her kick and play with her."

The Kleibrink foursome, Calgary's first at the Olympics, got off to a 1-3 start but ripped off seven victories in a row for the free trip to Italy.

Nixon handed credit to Kleibrink, who held onto her composure while giving up the lead.

"She is just probably one of the best shotmakers in women's curling who has never quite broken through at a national like a Scott or a trials," Nixon told the Canadian Press. "How many people in their lives get a chance to say I'm an Olympian? Wow. That's phenomenal."

Keshen had her own moment to realize she was an Olympian -- the drug testing.

"I didn't do very well," she reported.

"I peed all over my hands."


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