Proper draw wait

CON GRIWKOWSKY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:03 AM ET

SYLVAN LAKE -- Going to a provincial championship has always been a nervous experience for Calgary's Cheryl Bernard.

In the 20-plus years Bernard has been tossing rocks, the pre-event routine has pretty much been the same.

Tossing and turning for a couple of nights. Churning stomach.

Never happens on the cashspiel circuit, where her foursome has consistently been one of the top teams on the Women's World Curling Tour.

"It's the thing for us, it is the event for us to come to and try to get to the Canadians," said Bernard. "It always will be, depending on how long I decide to keep playing."

She's won three Alberta titles, but the ones that stick in her craw were the ones that got away.

There have been many instances when she earned a bye into the final undefeated only to lose.

After winning Thursday night's A Event final and a berth into tonight's A-B winners' game, Bernard figured a change of routine was in order.

"When you have this much time off, it hasn't always worked out in our favour, so we're going to try something different," said Bernard.

Instead of staying away from the rink, her team of third Susan O'Connor, second Carolyn Darbyshire and lead Cori Bartel has been at the rink.

Yesterday, they watched the morning draw, then got on the ice for the first of three practices before the playoff round.

"We're trying to stay out here and feel like we're still in the event," said Bernard. "Two days off and you can feel like you're not. We haven't done so well getting the bye in these events."

COACH CREDITED

Bernard credits team coach Dennis Balderston for at least trying something different.

"You'd never turn this down," said Bernard about the bye and her three-game winning streak. "You've got to somehow manage it. That's the biggest trick is just managing it and not ever feeling you're not in the event anymore."

The level of competition here demands it. Even though she skips one of Canada's top teams, the gap between the leaders and the contenders is not as wide as it is at the men's level in Alberta.

"I don't know that anybody's going to be completely dominant," said Bernard. "The field is so good in Alberta, you have to be up in every game you play. Even on the Tour in Canada, there isn't one or two teams that dominate.

"Alberta is a tough province. Cathy King isn't even here and she's been here every year I have been here. It's shocking to me that she's not here. It doesn't seem like a provincial without her."

Bernard had her hands full in her last-rock win over Shannon Kleibrink, Canada's top CTRS team and the defending champ. It's been a great rivalry over the years with not much to choose between them.

"Oh, yeah," said Bernard. "I wish one of us would move. It would make things a heck of a lot easier.

"The good thing with them is you expect to go 10 or 11 ends. If you expect to dominate a game, that can be the death of you. It's (the rivalry) good for me because I can get up for that."

AIMING FOR THE BYE

Bernard has found a way to keep her head into the event and should she win tonight, she will get a bye into tomorrow's final.

Under this format, a seeded player can win the Alberta title by putting together a five-game winning streak. There's three games down and two to go.

"We're going to be playing somebody tough," said Bernard. "It would be great not to give that away and advance to the final. (Kevin) Martin did this last year, he went through undefeated. That would be sweet, to try and follow his path."

First, there's a bit of history to overcome.


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