RAMA, Ont. — It was the fourth end when Kevin Martin said the words with feeling.
The reaction was priceless.
“I was talking to the rock, not you Cheryl!” said Martin.
At that point his rocks weren’t listening.
Martin was otherwise mostly talking to himself for most of the TSN Skins Game as Cheryl Bernard had him in definite danger of turning into the Bobby Riggs of Olympic curlers here Saturday night.
“Oh, boy,” said Martin when it was over and he’d managed to beat Bernard $11,000 to $10,000 to advance to the Sunday final against David Murdoch of Scotland.
“Boy, oh boy. That’s pressure. That’s definitely more pressure than I’ve ever had in a skins game before.
“They’d won three ends and earned a carry over and at that point it’s not the money,” he said of the $100,000 weekend.
“It’s not even what you guys in the media would be doing with it. The media would have killed me.
“It’s all my friends. It’s the Detroit Red Wing guys we had a curling day with in Edmonton who were texting us.
“And man those girls were playing well. Cheryl was curling 100%. Susan O’Connor was at about 90%. When you are curling 100% and 90% I don’t care if you are a guy or a girl, you are curling great.”
Casino Rama was abuzz all day after crazy ice conditions for the first game on the one-sheeter constructed on the cement floor in front of the 3,500 theatre seats, dialed up the anticipation of what might be possible.
The place was alive as the Olympic silver medalists, wearing their new Dairy Queen uniforms, were piped down the stands, ladies first, before Martin’s gold medal-winning team.
John Morris gave Bernard a kiss and the two skips, with big smiles on their faces, enjoyed some repartee before the first rocks were thrown.
But then it was game on. And, while there was a quirky moment or two, it wasn’t the ice like it was in the afternoon game.
It was the ice in the veins of Bernard, O’Connor, Carolyn Darbyshire and Cori Morris. And the only smiles were on the faces of girls from Calgary.
When Bernard stole two to win the first end, she thrust her broom in the air with both arms in great glee.
“That’s all I expected us to get. We were pretty happy to get that. That’s all we thought that we were going to get,” she said.
Then it was mostly time to watch Martin. With hammer on both of the next two ends the Old Bear missed with his last rocks and Bernard stole both.
The Olympic girls were up $3,500 to $0.00 against the skip who is in his 12th TSN Skins Game with four wins and $355,850 in winnings going in.
With the fourth end a carry over, Martin tied it up $3,500-$3,500 in the fifth when Bernard missed by an inch. Between ends they showed Martin’s gold-medal presentation and the raising of the Canadian flag at the Vancouver Olympics. The entire crowd stood. Martin stood there staring at the big screen, too. It was a moment.
Another carry over and Martin won $7,500 to put it away leaving the two teams to curl for $6,500 with the game already decided to finish it up.
“It was lots and lots of fun,” said Bernard. “We got to play against the best and look what we did. I’m really proud of my team,” she said of making more money in skins than Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg who won one skin and made $1,500 here two years ago after winning $7,950 of $60,000 in a separate promotion against Randy Ferbey in Brandon in 2005.
“We were playing for all the girls,” she said.
Murdoch was badly out-played by Brier and current world champion Kevin Koe’s rink out of Edmonton Saturday. But Murdoch left the venue with $14,000 and Koe $7,000 plus a grand from the pre-tournament closest to the button competition.
“It was like playing on four or five different sheets of ice,” said Murdoch. “It was swingy. Then it was super slow. Then it sped up. Then it was straight. There were so many missed shots. The draw was the toughest shot there was to throw out there. Nobody could make a draw.”
Too bad. You could have had the Olympic gold-medal winner versus the Brier winner and world champion out of the same Saville Centre club in Edmonton.
For most of the evening, though, it looked like you could have had history.
Can you imagine if Bernard had won?
“Yes I can,” said Martin. “Oh man, can I ever.”
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