Olympic dream alive

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:20 AM ET

She may have scaled her curling schedule back but her Olympic dream remains just as alive.

Manitoba's Karen Porritt secured a berth into the Canada Cup when she advanced to the semifinals of the women's qualifier in Ottawa yesterday. The winner of the 2007 Canada Cup, to be played in Kamloops, B.C., March 13-18, will earn a trip to the 2009 pre-Olympic trials qualifying tournament.

"We're pretty happy," Porritt said from Ottawa after clipping Alberta's Cathy King 6-5 in an extra end in a quarter-final. "Now, we're going to the Canada Cup and we've got a shot at getting to the trials."

Porritt, who helped Jennifer Jones win her first women's provincial crown in 2002, decided to cut back on her competitive curling because it was taking a toll on time spent with her family. But that doesn't mean her Olympic dream died.

"I love curling with these guys," Porritt said, referring to third Janice Blair, second Susan Baleja and Alison Harvey. "If we can do it and keep a balance with our family lives, we'll go for it. But there's still a long ways to go to get there."

Ironically, Porritt had failed to earn a trip to this year's Scotties Tournament of Hearts through the recent city zone playdowns.

"We lost last weekend and were pretty frustrated," admitted Porritt, who blasted Alberta's Cheryl Bernard 11-5 in the semifinal. "But I don't know if we surprised ourselves here. I don't think I've ever come to Ottawa and skipped and not played well here. It's just one of those mind games. And we had the curling gods on our side, too. We won a measure to beat (B.C.'s Kelley) Law that we didn't think we had. When that happened, we knew we had a chance."

Porritt plans to play in next month's MCA Women's Bonspiel, where the last Hearts berth is available.

In another twist of fate, Porritt met her old skipper, Jones, in the final last night. Jones took the $12,000 top prize with an 8-5 win, while Porritt settled for $8,000.

Although Jones had advanced to the final with a 6-5 extra-end victory over Alberta's Shannon Kleibrink, she already had a Cup spot.

Kleibrink had eliminated Manitoba's Kristy Jenion 11-5 in the first round of the playoffs. Jenion pocketed $3,800.

In Edmonton, Manitoba's Jeff Stoughton also qualified for the Canada Cup when he sank Saskatchewan's Pat Simmons 6-4 in a quarter-final. Stoughton, then dropped an 8-7 decision to Ontario's John Base in the semifinal, settling for $6,650.

Alberta's Kevin Martin, who was playing Base in last night's final, crushed Manitoba's Reid Carruthers 8-2 in a quarter-final. Carruthers still got $4,500.

Although Manitoba's Kerry Burtnyk failed to qualify in Edmonton, he will also head to Kamloops as one of the top CTRS point-getters in Canada.

BITER: It's a moot point now but, if Virden's Graham Freeman, who already has a Safeway Select berth, had beaten Portage la Prairie's Don Spriggs in Sunday's MCT men's final, the Select spot that goes to the outright winner only would have reverted to the MCA Bonspiel, not to Spriggs, said MCA executive director Ian Staniloff.


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