Olympic trials on her mind

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 3:47 PM ET

She is trying to keep those ever-present emotions bubbling inside from bursting forth.

Alberta's Cheryl Bernard is skipping one of four teams that have already earned a direct path into the Canadian Curling Trials in Edmonton this December -- her first.

"It will be good to go and I can't wait," Bernard said yesterday. "I'm just excited about it. It's going to be great. I don't know if I'll get back to another one -- probably not, I'm a bit too old (43). I'll just enjoy the week and the team that plays the best through that week will be the team that does it ... It could be us so, we'll go fight."

Bernard beat Manitoba's Lisa Blixhavn 5-1 at the Fort Rouge Curling Club to qualify for today's playoff round of the Manitoba Lotteries Women's Curling Classic, a women's Grand Slam event.

But, while Bernard is using these spiels to prepare for the trials, she sometimes allows herself to dream about what it would be like to compete on Olympic ice should she win the trials.

"That would be amazing," said Bernard, supported by third Susan O'Connor, transplanted Manitoban Carolyn Darbyshire, and lead Cori Bartel. "To have that opportunity, and it's only once every four years and it's in Canada on top of it, that would be pretty incredible. But you've got to put that out of your mind. Every once in a while, you think about it but not that often."

In fact, because her foursome has already qualified for the trials, she has taken a more relaxed approach to her preparation.

"We wanted to have some fun," said Bernard. "It's been great actually and what we've learned from that is that is how we must approach the trials. We're all pretty intense people, we don't need any extra -- so it's been a really good year and we're not killing ourselves. Normally, we would go really, really hard. Now we're going every second weekend and we're having fun doing it."

Like Manitoba's trials-bound Jennifer Jones, Bernard turned down a chance to play in the inaugural Three Nations Cup to compete here, preferring to support an event that had been so good to her over the years.

"We felt like coming here was the right thing to do and thank God we did because we've made a lot more money here so far than we would have there," she said.

Bernard earned $3,700 for qualifying. Also qualifying through B was Northern Ontario's Krista McCarville.

"We didn't play our game," said Blixhavn, who was playing in a C qualifier last night. "I just didn't feel comfortable out there."

Both B.C.'s Kelly Scott and Jones qualified through A late Saturday.

Today's final will be played at 5 p.m.

BITER: The Pembina teams skipped by Daniel and Shannon Birchard (his sister) were presented with $250 Lorraine Toth Junior Curling Sponsorship Awards last night.

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca


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