Calgary's Shannon Kleibrink has been added to the roster of pre-qualified teams for the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings being held here in December.
The event will be the last qualifying tournament to choose Canada's contingent for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
Kleibrink, the Olympic bronze medallist at Pinerolo, Italy, in 2006, has built up an insurmountable lead in the Canadian Teams Ranking System and was added to the lineup over the weekend.
FOUR TEAMS IN
She joins two-time Scotties champion Jennifer Jones as two of the four teams that will pre-qualify for the event.
Edmonton's Kevin Martin and Ontario's Glenn Howard have already pre-qualified on the men's side.
When looking for a hook for yesterday's news conference announcing mini-packs are going on sale Friday, chair Jackie-Rae Greening figured Kleibrink was close enough to claim a bye.
"It was actually funny," said Greening. "I sat down on Saturday (at the Brier) with Warren Hansen and Danny Lamoureux of the CCA (Canadian Curling Association). I said we were having this media conference and we could really, really use another team. In taking with Shannon down in Calgary, she said even if they didn't throw another rock this season, they would still be in."
So, Greening got the green light to announce Kleibrink's inclusion in the lineup.
"They were comfortable with saying Shannon would be in," said Greening.
At this year's provincial championship in Sylvan Lake, Klebrink's third Amy Nixon figured the team would have earned a bye if it won the province. The team lost out to Cheryl Bernard.
Still, no matter what happens at this weekend's Canada Cup or the Players Championship in Grande Prairie next month, the worst Kleibrink could do was come in as the No. 4 seed.
"Another women's team really helps because it did confuse the public when we were promoting two men's teams and only one women's team," said Greening. "It's difficult to explain the whole points (CTRS) thing.
"Also, the fact we now have a team from Calgary should help our full-event package sales.
"I think it's huge that another team was named. If you think of the fans that have bought the full-event packages now, they're just buying on spec. They really didn't know who was going to be there. They just knew we were going to have the top teams in the country."
From a marketing perspective, having Kleibrink on board taps into another fan base.
"If somebody likes a particular team and that team's in there, they're going to buy tickets," said Greening. "It does help our full promotional effort."
At the opening weekend of the Brier in Calgary, Hansen noted that Edmonton's ticket sales were ahead of what the Calgary Brier had sold with nine months to go.
Yesterday, Greening announced the committee was more than halfway to its target of 200,000 attendance with a sales figure of 100,242 so far.
"That's really significant," said Greening, who hinted that a final figure of 220,000 would be an unexpected bonus. "That's a really comfortable position to be in. That was a goal we were going for by the Brier and we did get just over that, so we're part-way there, for sure."
FIT THE NEED
Even with the economic downturn, Greening is convinced the seven mini-pack options priced at $277 and $177 will fit the curling fan's needs.
"That's why the mini-packs are so great," said Greening.
"Absolutely, money is tight some days, but when you have mini-packs, I think we've made it affordable for people. We got a lot of 'when are mini-packs on sale' when we were promoting the event at the Brier."