Hearts set on provincial title

TODD SAELHOF, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:12 AM ET

It's not just another shot at an Alberta title for Calgary skips Cheryl Bernard and Shannon Kleibrink.

There's Olympic glory on the line, too.

Who knew the summer resort town of Sylvan Lake would host so much promise when the 2009 Alberta Scott Tournament of Hearts opens there today?

"This is my 19th time in provincials, so the shine has worn off a little," Kleibrink said.

"But it's still part of the Olympic qualifying process, so the points are important. This might come down to which one of us makes the Trials.

"This week could make a big difference."

Alberta's reigning champion means points will be awarded to the Canadian Team Ranking System (CTRS) from the women's provincial championship, and those points will go a long way in helping to determine berths for the 2009 Roar of the Rings Olympic curling trials in Edmonton, Dec. 6-13.

Only four events remain for women to grab Olympic qualifying CTRS points -- the Alberta Scotties, the Canadian Scott Tournament of Hearts, the Canada Cup and The Players Championship in Grande Prairie.

As it stands today, both Bernard and Kleibrink would pre-qualify for the Olympic Trials based on their top rankings in the CTRS' three-year and four-year qualifications.

"For us, this week is about the provincials because they are about going to Canadians," Bernard said. "For us, that's a dream come true. We want to get back there.

"So the Scott is the focus, while Olympics are a carrot being dangled down the road.

"We'll focus on the Olympics when it comes to the Trials. For now, the dream is about being Canadian champions."

Kleibrink gained entry to the provincials as the defending Alberta champion, while both Bernard and fellow Calgarian Heather Rankin earned spots by being among the top rinks in the CTRS.

Playoffs are slated for Sunday, beginning with the semifinal at 9:30 a.m.

"It's all about win-win-win," Bernard said. "It'll be a long week. You bring out all the cliches -- one game at a time, one shot at a time ...

"You can't look too far ahead or you'll lose to teams you shouldn't lose to."

Extra ends

Three other entries will help represent the Calgary area this week at the Alberta Scotties -- Rankin (Calgary Winter Club), Crystal Webster (Calgary Winter) and Leslie Rogers (Cochrane) ... The seniors' Southerns begin Friday at the Airdrie Curling Club for both men and women. Sixteen men's rinks, including Calgary Super League star Lloyd Hill and men's provincial contender Rob Armitage (Red Deer), shoot for three spots in the provincials. Among the other teams vying for provincials are Dave Mayer (Acadia Recreation Complex), Harold Breckenridge (Inglewood), Don Heir (Inglewood), Jack Flannery (Calgary Curling), Percy Dumba (Calgary Winter), Brian Salmond (Airdrie), Doug Baird (Calgary Winter), Ken Scott (Inglewood), Wayne Cox (Calgary Winter), Lorne Goodman (Airdrie) and Dave Rutherford (Inglewood). Nine women's rinks will vie for three provincial slots, including Peggy Harper (Calgary Curling), Alicia Brooks (Cochrane), Debbie Miller (Okotoks), Cinthia Ehmann (Springbank), Linda Wagner (Calgary Curling), Diane Foster (Calgary Winter) and Heather Paul-Scott (Inglewood) ... The juvenile women's Southerns run this weekend in Brooks, where three provincial spots are up for grabs. Among the eight foursomes competing are Kayla Ramstad (Calgary Winter), Keely Brown (Calgary Winter), Bryn Lewis (North Hill) and Claire Tully (Calgary Curling).

LAST ROCK

Kevin Yablonski of the Calgary Winter Club carries Alberta's colours into the 2009 M&M Meat Shops Canadian Juniors in Salmon Arm, B.C. The week-long national championship begins Sunday with Yablonski, third Michael Ng, second Brad Benini and lead Derek Clark taking on Quebec's Andrew Leigh and B.C.'s Bryan Kedziora on the opening day. The winner advances to worlds.


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