Hard to keep their cool

TERRY JONES, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 8:57 AM ET

Rod McRorie has already decorated the place.

And now Carolyn Darbyshire-McRorie is one win away from playing in the Olympic curling venue with her Calgary teammates.

"My husband isn't here. He's at home looking after our two kids. He leaves back to Vancouver Monday to keep decorating the Olympics.

"He's done the curling rink. He's done the speedskating oval. He's done the CTV building."

Darbyshire-McRorie, second for Cheryl Bernard on the team which also includes third Susan O'Connor and lead Cori Bartell, handed Jennifer Jones her fourth loss of the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings Olympic curling trials, leaving the poster girl and favourite for the event needing "a thousand things to happen" to get into a tie-breaker situation to stay alive.

Bernard made it six straight wins to guarantee first place and a spot in Saturday's women's final. Calgary's Shannon Kleibrink also guaranteed herself a spot in Friday's semi-final against whoever survives today's afternoon draw and possible tie-breakers.

One win from the Olympics.

In the grand tradition of trials teams who have never won a Brier or a Scotties getting to the Olympics, these gals are poised on the brink of something they didn't really allow themselves to dream of on the road to Edmonton.

"I don't know what it is," said Bernard of curlers like Mike Harris, Brad Gushue, Kelley Law and Kleibrink being Olympians without being Brier or Scotties champions.

"We were happy coming here as a little bit of an underdog."

And the last thing they want to do now is think, too much about it.

"If you let your brain go there, you're going to melt down," said O'Connor.

"If somebody told us five years ago when we started on this journey that we'd be in the final at the trials to get to Vancouver, we'd have taken it no matter who was out there," she said of having likely taken care of it not being the best team in Canada over the last four years.

"I don't know what we do between now and then other than play our last round-robin game today. But we have to do everything we can think of to keep our perspective.

"It would be incredible to go. But we have to tell ourselves that our life won't end if we don't," she added.

"It's a great feeling," said lead Bartel.

"It's pretty amazing. It's a powerful thing we're dealing with here."

In the final few ends of the 8-5 win in which Bernard scored four in the fourth end and three in the eighth, it looked like everybody on both teams was going to leave the ice crying. The Jones team because of what looked like had happened to them until Amber Holland beat Krista McCarville 4-3 with two in the 10th end to give them a mathematical chance if all the planets are aligned today.

"I don't really care about Jennifer. And I mean that in the nicest way," said Holland, who stayed alive at 3-3 herself along with McCarville and Lawton.

Bernard admitted her eyes were getting a little wet at a couple points there.

"Maybe a little bit," she said. "It was hard emotionally to keep it under control.

"That we're one game away hasn't sunk in. Not yet. But it's a sudden-death game. And anything can happen."

She told of how, back in 1997 she was in the same position at the Scotties and was run around all weekend to do media hits and felt she handled it all wrong. She isn't planning on making the same mistake twice.

"We wanted to win and do it our way," said O'Connor of the team which would have ended up in Saturday's final even if they'd lost as long as Kleibrink won her game against Stefanie Lawton, which she did.

"This was the first game we won where we felt like were all on, from lead to skip."

Weird the way it worked. They were a high-wire act all week, winning on last rock shots, needing triple measurements and an extra end. And their easiest game was against Jennifer Jones?

Welcome to the Olympic trials.

TERRY.JONES@SUNMEDIA.CA


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