High Rankin gives rink a bye

TODD SAELHOF, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:24 AM ET

Call it a rebirth of sorts, although it may be a newborn in Heather Rankin's extended curling clan that's responsible for her rink's resurgence.

Baby Reese made the long trip east with mom Heather Moulding for the 2008 Sobeys Slam, and Rankin, Moulding and Co. returned from Nova Scotia with playoff money and -- more importantly -- a bye into the Alberta Scotties.

"Reese was our lucky charm," said Rankin of the newest addition to the Moulding family.

It was the first time Rankin has iced her original team since The Player's Championship last April.

"Really, it was a great feeling to get together again," said Rankin, whose rink also includes third Lisa Eyamie and lead Kyla MacLachlan. "Heather Mo is such a star, it was worth the wait while she was on maternity.

"We've been holding our own without her -- we've had guest appearances filling in at second across the country," continued Rankin, who praised the work of fill-ins Charmain Froese, Tara Rundquist and Lesle Cafferty at second in place of Moulding. "Lisa is new at third from Winnipeg, too, but she gelled with us right off the bat.

"It wasn't the typical playbook for a skip. But it showed us a different level of mental toughness, and it's been fun."

It's also been strangely successful, since Rankin -- from Day 1 of the season -- has been among the top money earners on the World Curling Tour and one of the top-10 point-getters on the CTRS leaderboard, a key determinant in deciding the rinks for Olympic qualification. Rankin's 10th-place CTRS standing has also secured her team a spot in the Alberta Scotties.

Rankin calculated her rink's quarterfinal berth at the World Curling Tour's $60,000 Sobeys Slam in New Glasgow, N.S., guaranteed the precious bye into the provincial final event.

"We deserved to win that quarterfinal," said Rankin, whose foursome lost 8-7 in an extra end Sunday to Ontario's Sherry Middaugh. "We just gave up a field-goal -- three points -- in the seventh end. It was a new-team blip. I guess it's one of those game that gives you experience."

But that appearance, nonetheless, keeps them slightly ahead of fellow Albertan Crystal Webster in the CTRS standings.

Rankin headed into the Sobeys Slam mere points ahead of Webster in the hunt for one of two remaining passes into the Alberta provincials.

Fellow Calgarians Shannon Kleibrink and Cheryl Bernard, for being the defending provincial champion and highest ranked Alberta team in the CTRS standings respectively, have already earned the first two passes.

The official list of the four men's teams and the four women's rinks earning provincial passes is due to be released tomorrow by the Alberta Curling Federation.

"Our goal was to qualify for provincials," Rankin said.

"I guess I'm just like Brett Favre. I walk in with a new team, and it's all good."

The Alberta Scotties are slated for Sylvan Lake, Jan. 28-Feb. 1.

EXTRA ENDS

Marie-France Larouche won the Sobeys Slam, defeating Saskatoon's Stefanie Lawton in Sunday's 7-3 final ... Provincial playdowns began over the weekend for the junior men with districts at the Glencoe Club. Twelve rinks qualified from the event for Southerns Dec. 19-21 at the Acadia Recreation Complex. The 'A' event qualified Craig Bourgonje (Sundre), Kevin Yablonski (Calgary Winter), Shane Parcels (Red Deer) and Brad Smailes (Lethbridge). Josh Stanley (Calgary Winter/Cochrane), Brad Chyz (Chestermere), Trevor Slupski (North Hill) and Michael Hauer (North Hill/Calgary Curling) qualified from the 'B' side. And four others, Jacob Ortt (Garrison), Brad Smith (Garrison), Riley Carroll (Oyen) and Steven Wells (Lethbridge) qualified from the 'C' event ... At the WCT's $30,000 Boundary Ford Curling Classic in Lloydminster, Calgary's Leslie Rogers was knocked out in the semifinal draw, losing to eventual-champ Kristie Moore 8-1. Rogers' rink of third Allison Nimik, second Teryn Hamilton and lead Lauren Turnquist pocketed $3,500 from the spiel ... On the men's side of the WCT, Calgary's Steve Petryk was knocked out in the quarterfinal round yesterday of the $60,000 Point-Optical Curling Classic in Saskatoon. The Petryk rink, boasting Robert Schlender throwing skip rocks, second Brent Bawel and lead Sean O'Connor, brought home a $4,000 payday. Kevin Martin, with Calgarians John Morris and Ben Hebert, was also eliminated in the quarters.

LAST ROCK

The National, which is the next WCT Grand Slam event for the men, begins tomorrow in Quebec City, where 18 rinks vie for the $100,000 purse. Alberta's Kevin Koe, Randy Ferbey and Martin lead the charge for the fame and fortune ... The women take the week off in preparation for the Canada Cup Qualifier, Dec. 11-15 in Ottawa.

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FINAL PASSES

WOMEN

SHANNON KLEIBRINK (2008 PROVINCIAL CHAMP)

CHERYL BERNARD (APRIL 2008 CTRS CHAMP)

HEATHER RANKIN (DEC. 2008 CTRS BERTH)

KRISTIE MOORE (ALBERTA TOUR BERTH)

MEN

KEVIN MARTIN

(2008 PROVINCIAL CHAMP)

KEVIN KOE

(CTRS BERTH)

TED APPELMAN

(1ST PLACE, ALBERTA TOUR)

RANDY FERBEY

(2ND PLACE, ALBERTA TOUR)


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