Kleibrink vindicated

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 12:17 PM ET

HALIFAX -- Alberta's Shannon Kleibrink threw a hit-and-stick to exorcise the demons of losing perhaps the most famous Canadian women's final in history yesterday.

Kleibrink cracked a three to score a come-from-behind 8-7 victory over B.C.'s transplanted Manitoban Kelly Scott in the women's final of the Canadian Curling Trials before 8,186 fans at the Halifax Metro Centre.

LOST TRIALS FINAL

Back in 1997, Kleibrink lost the trials final to Saskatchewan's legendary Sandra Schmirler, thanks to a circus shot to score three.

"Absolutely, she did (exorcise demons)," said Alberta third Amy Nixon, adding that second Glenys Bakker, who had been with Kleibrink in '97, got her on the road back. "They had lunch together about two years ago and Glenys said to Shannon, 'We're going to go back and we're going to do it this time.'

"That was also sort of in our minds that this is what we wanted. We had to be lucky, we had to get some breaks. It's a cool thing because it's a magical feeling of destiny this week because it means a lot to her."

An elated Kleibrink admitted as much.

"I think maybe people might stop talking about that now -- I hope," said Kleibrink, who has been reminded about that loss all week here. "It was kind of nice to have that in our back pocket, that we were so close (in 1997) because we knew we could do it. That's a big thing when you're at an event like this, just believing that you can win right to the very end.

"It was a pretty amazing moment. This was the biggest win of my life, for sure."

Also supported by lead Christine Keshen, Kleibrink will represent Canada at the Winter Olympics in Pinerolo, Italy, Feb. 13-24, 2006.

"How many people in their lives get a chance to say,, 'I'm an Olympian?'" asked Nixon. "Wow! It's unreal."

But the pressure will be on the foursome to bring home gold, just as Schmirler did.

"I'm looking so forward to it," said Kleibrink, 37. "It's such an honour to represent your country and whatever comes with it, we'll take it. We're going to do our very best to (win gold).

"World curling has come a long way since 1997 and we'll have to play as well as we did here to medal."

Scott, 28, was left to wonder what might have been if she had not blown the 10th end with some questionable strategy.

"It did go wrong pretty quick, didn't it?" she offered graciously. "The 10th had trouble written all over it. We were chasing right from third stones and both of my come-arounds (draws) ticked.

"It's hard, there is no second place but I wouldn't give it up for anything. There's only a select few people in this world that get to go through these sporting experiences and that's the harsh reality of sport. There's only one winner."

But she is determined to be back in 2009.

"Oh, this isn't the end of us, I know that," Scott said. "When we put our team together four years ago, our goal was to get to these trials and see what they were all about. And here we are, we're ready to win now and it's going to be hard waiting now for the next Olympic qualifying process.

"This is how you learn. To do it in front of millions of people is one thing but it's going to make us tougher in the end."

BITER: Halifax broke Regina's attendance record yesterday, drawing a total of 150,785 heading into today's men's final ... M&M Meat Shops has become the new sponsor the national junior championships.


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