Cashing in aim during Oly chase

TODD SAELHOF, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:28 PM ET

It's about the dough -- and not the show -- these days at the Calgary Curling Club.

Yes, even with the 2010 Olympic Winter Games on the horizon, it seems like the good ol' days have returned to the sport.

"It feels totally like the old days here -- it's a cash grab again this year," said curler Shannon Kleibrink with a chuckle about the 2009 Trial Appliances Autumn Gold Curling Classic at the Calgary Curling Club.

"There's money here -- and you've got to be playing for something."

Not that there isn't anything else on the table this winter.

The fact it's an Olympic year makes it an exciting one, so is Kleibrink forgetting about the stretch for Games gold in just five months?

Quite the opposite, says the 41-year-old Okotoks product.

"The Olympics obviously add something -- to have the opportunity to be wearing the Maple Leaf in your sport is the ultimate goal," Kleibrink said.

"It's another carrot."

But unlike last fall, when Kleibrink and others were trying to pocket points -- not dollars -- in a bid to secure a shot at Olympic glory, the next few months for the curler and her team are about tuning up for the 2009 Roar of the Rings Olympic Trials and the chance to represent Canada, Feb. 12-26 in Vancouver.

"At this point this year, it actually feels less stressful," Kleibrink said. "That's because we're not trying to get the points, and we don't have to play every weekend to get those points, and we have a lighter schedule leading into the trials.

"It'll be less stressful until we get to the trials."

Those Olympic Trials go Dec. 6-13 in Edmonton.

Until then, Kleibrink's participation in spiels -- including the annual Calgary-hosted Autumn Gold, a grand slam event on the World Curling Tour -- is about preparation for the Olympic opportunity.

"For sure," said Kleibrink, who's flanked by third Amy Nixon, second Bronwen Webster and lead Chelsey Bell. "We're just here to get better -- it doesn't matter about the outcome so much. We're just here to concentrate on the little things we need to work on and not worry about the score so much."

Kleibrink's own aim is to rediscover her draw weight. She's struggled to find it early the first two spiels, which has seen her rink finish 3-2 -- and out of the money -- in roundrobin formats.

"The team's playing well -- they just have to continue the way they're playing and hope their skip shows up," said Kleibrink with a smile.

"We've done a lot of work to this point.

"The most important thing is to stay on track and go into the trials well-rested.

"We need to take care of ourselves so we're not going to be burnt out."

TODD.SAELHOF@SUNMEDIA.CAC


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