Are we good enough?

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 5:29 PM ET

HALIFAX -- So are we sending long shots to the Olympics? Should we expect silver and bronze again instead of the gold Canada thought we'd win two-by-two every quadrennial when curling became an Olympic sport?

Are Pal Trulsen, Peja Lindholm and Markku Uusipaavalniemi giddy to see 25-year-old Brad Gushue and his Newfoundland crew with a 50-year-old ringer in the lineup?

Are Dordy Nordby, Anette Norberg, Mirjam Ott and the lot encouraged to see Shannon Kleibrink?

The question, as Canada contemplates sending Gushue and Kleibrink to Turin, is if they can do better than Kevin Martin's silver medal and Kelley Law's bronze from four years ago.

Canada has yet to win a men's Olympic gold. Only Sandra Schmirler has delivered Olympic gold so far in the sport Canada used to own like, well, we used to own hockey.

What we dealt with here these past 10 days was an upset of the old apple cart with the old apples spilling out. Favorites Randy Ferbey and Kevin Martin, Jennifer Jones and Colleen Jones all didn't make the playoffs.

OFFSHORE BETTING LINE

When this started, the offshore betting line on Kleibrink was 18-to-1. Gushue was 16-to-1.

With Gushue, there have been comparisons to 30 years ago, when Jack MacDuff became the only Newfoundland rink to win the Brier with Gushue winning the trials. Few remember that MacDuff's rink then went to Europe and became the first Canadian team not only to miss the medals, but to miss the playoffs.

Neither of these teams has a wealth of international experience, although Gushue was a world junior champion.

"The thing people have to remember is the pressure is 10 times what it is at the world championships," said Jim Waite, Canada's national curling coach. "In 1998 Mike Harris should have been in hospital, not in the final," he said.

"In '02 Kevin Martin hadn't missed a draw all week, and all he had to do was hit the four-foot," he added of the shot which was an inch heavy.

"But we're sending two great teams that can get it done. I know our chef de mission Shane Pearsall talked to the girls this morning and told them "Think gold!"

If the concept is to "Own the Podium" then curling would be an obvious place to start.

"Curling and hockey," said Christine Keshen, the girl who rolled up her sleeves at lead for Kleibrink. "There's going to be a lot of pressure on us to get gold. And that's OK. If we've ever sent a rink which can handle any stress and any distractions, this is the team. Two of us, myself and Shannon, quit our jobs to concentrate on this. Amy Nixon is articling with a law firm and going through this at the same time.

"Amy's mom has had two brain surgeries in the last couple of years. Glenys Bakker was feeding a four-month old baby at the fifth-end breaks."

LIKES HIS CHANCES

Gushue says they're ready.

"If we keep playing like we are ... this is the greatest we've ever played. I like our chances."

Kleibrink said they already have an idea of the attention which is going to be headed their way.

"It's how I am as a fan watching hockey. I'm hoping we win gold and I'm thinking Canada should win gold. Of course we're going there thinking we're going to win the gold. We're Canada!"


Videos

Photos