Webster Roarin' to go

TODD SAELHOF, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:52 AM ET

Crystal Webster and Co. gained more than a spot in the Olympic Trials with their perfect run at the 2009 Road to the Roar in Prince George, B.C.

They gained public face time, TV exposure and experience on arena ice.

It's all key in their dream to become Olympians, especially since the road ahead -- in particular, the 2009 Roar of the Rings next month in Edmonton -- is lined with foes who already have such experience tucked away in their back pockets.

"There's no doubt we have to put together a great week of curling in Edmonton," said Webster, looking ahead to the Olympic Trials, Dec. 6-13 in the Alberta capital. "But we've had some success against the top teams, so they know what we're capable of."

After their solid 4-0 performance at the pre-trials in Prince George, they've earned even more respect among their peers and among the curling public.

Webster, third Lori Olson-Johns, third Samantha Preston and lead Stephanie Malekoff are now legitimate contenders for the Olympic berth at the trials, but such huge events are commonplace for the super-curlers and trials opponents such as fellow Calgarians Cheryl Bernard and Shannon Kleibrink and defending national champion Jennifer Jones.

"More than anything, being on TV and in front of a big crowd was really exciting, so we were a little nervous," said Webster of winning the televised 'A' final at the Road to the Roar.

"I'm sure happy with the way we handled the pressure. Having the TV cameras right there, you're definitely aware of them all of the time.

"Lori has been in those big games before (as a former third for Edmonton's Cathy King)," Webster continued. "For myself, I was in some a long time ago with Cheryl Bernard. Being skip, though, is a different ball game.

"What was great, too, was getting to play on some arena ice. It's different than club ice, and it'll be like what we'll be playing on in Edmonton."

The Calgary Curling Club rink, along with the Bernard and Kleibrink teams, gets back to the World Curling Tour this week at the $50,000 Sun Life Classic in Brantford, Ont.

In the meantime, the Webster clan is busy with practice, not wanting to waste the success of perfection in Prince George by continuing to push themselves for a shot at Olympic glory.

"Absolutely," said Webster, when asked if they were getting right down to business. "Everybody is feeling a little different a few days after winning. Some are still celebrating. I'm celebrating too, but I can't help but look ahead and think about Edmonton.

"To be sitting here knowing we have a 1-in-8 chance of representing Canada at the Olympics is incredible."

EXTRA ENDS

The field is now set for the Roar of the Rings with the addition of the eight teams -- four of each gender -- after the showdown in Prince George. Webster, Jones, Bernard, Kleibrink, Saskatoon's Stefanie Lawton, Kelowna's Kelly Scott, Ontario's Krista McCarville and Saskatchewan's Amber Holland vie to become Canada's Olympic representative on the women's side. Among men at the Olympic Trials, it'll be Kevin Martin -- with Calgarians John Morris and Ben Hebert -- Kevin Koe, Randy Ferbey and Ted Appelman all curling out of Edmonton and Winnipeg's Jeff Stoughton, Ontario's Wayne Middaugh, Saskatchewan's Pat Simmons and Manitoba's Jason Gunnlaugson vying to carry Canada's colours at the 2010 Vancouver Games ... In junior curling, the men begin their chase for provincial supremacy with district playdowns Friday at Springbank Curling Club. The 12 rinks vying for spots at the Southern playdowns include Harrison Boss (North Hill), Michael Roy (Inglewood), Craig Bourgonje (Sundre), Kevin Yablonski (Calgary Winter), Scott Smith (Garrison), Kyler Kleibrink (Okotoks) and Lucas Scott (Garrison).

LAST ROCK

The WCT swings back into Alberta this week with the $40,000 Wainwright Roaming Buffalo Classic for the men. The triple-knockout event features 24 teams.

TODD.SAELHOF@SUNMEDIA.CA


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