Cheryl beams up to Scotties

CON GRIWKOWSKY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:48 AM ET

SYLVAN LAKE -- A perfect ending to a perfect week.

Calgary's Cheryl Bernard claimed her second Alberta women's curling title in three years with a 9-7 extra-end win over Edmonton's Heather Nedohin yesterday.

Bernard shook off a few ghosts in winning all five starts, duplicating what Kevin Martin did in winning the 2008 Alberta men's title.

"The last game wasn't as dominating as the rest of them had been, but still we had a great weekend," said Bernard.

"Finals are sometimes not the best games. It wasn't as good as we had hoped.It wasn't a classic, but we looked back at how we played all weekend and it was a great week here.

"Alberta is always so tough. You have to dig deep every time you play here."

This is Bernard's second trip to the Scotties Tournament of Hearts with the same lineup that helped her win an Alberta title in 2007.

She also won titles in 1996 and 1992.

"Four of us have all the experience together going back to the Scotties," said Bernard.

"It's great to be going back with a team that's been there before."

Bernard finally found the formula for closing the deal after having a strong round-robin.

Now, she's going to have to figure out how to do it at this year's Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Victoria later this month.

CLOSEST

The closest Bernard has come to winning a national title was her loss in the 1996 final to Marilyn Darte of Ontario, who went on to win the world championship.

Edmonton's Cathy King remains the only Alberta team to have won the Scotties, even though Calgary's Shannon Kleibrink came close, losing out to Manitoba's Jennifer Jones last year.

Jones has had an off-year, meaning this year's event will be wide open.

"To get back there the second time, you know what you're doing," said Bernard.

"It's just going to be a different Scotts for us. I think it'll be a bit more business and not so much awe when we're there. It can be a really huge experience. I'd like to be back in the position to be back in the final."

Third Susan O'Connor and lead Cori Bartel were Scotts rookies two years ago.

"Your first Scotties is always special," said O'Connor. "For us, it's a great win because it looked like we might give it away.

'FEELS GOOD'

"So, just the perseverance on our team feels good. I think we have a bit more of a team confidence going into the Scotties this time, just for the fact we've all been together there and have the experience.

"It's quite an accomplishment to come through this field undefeated, for sure."

Second Carolyn Darbyshire figures the team will be going to Victoria with a sense of quiet confidence.

"It's a little different feeling," said Darbyshire.

"It feels really good. We just want to go out and prove ourselves. We had a slow start last time out. I think we're a stronger team.

"We believe in each other. It's just great.

"It's quiet confidence. We know each other a lot better now. We've done 10 spiels this year, so there's been a lot of hard work."

Bartel is also thrilled to be heading back for the second time in three years with the same crew.

"It's different, but still pretty exciting to be with the team that we have because we're all so close," said Bartel. "You never know what can happen after the Olympics. We take that experience from Lethbridge (2007).

"We're not the home province team this time. We have two more years' experience under our belts and lots more big games.

"Hopefully, we'll handle the pressure a little better."

The win was also important in Bernard's goal of grabbing one of the three direct-entry spots to the Olympic trials, being held in Edmonton in December.


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