Kleibrink's rink feeling cool as ice

TODD SAELHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:26 AM ET

Maybe it’s a case of father knows best.

Shannon Kleibrink certainly hopes so since having a curling conversation with dear ol’ dad in a lead-up to the 2011 Alberta Scotties.

“He said maybe this will be the year you win because of (your lack of expectations),” said Kleibrink, whose rink isn’t feeling the pressure of winning the upcoming provincial championship in Camrose.

The women’s finale begins Wednesday morning, with Kleibrink & Co. heading in with little in the way of recent game experience under their belts. After a limited bonspiel schedule during the fall, Kleibrink, third Amy Nixon, second Bronwen Webster and lead Chelsey Bell have spent almost zero time together since December’s Canada Cup.

And it’s been a welcome change of pace for the longtime teammates.

“Laying low,” said Kleibrink of executing a low-key, post-Olympics season.

“If anything, our expectations are lower this year than ever. Maybe there’s less pressure on us than ever because we planned to have such a laid-back year.”

Their reward?

It’s been a solid season so far, as they head into the provincials with a World Curling Tour win at November’s Red Deer Classic and just two losses — including a semifinal drop to eventual-champion Stefanie Lawton of Saskatchewan — in the Medicine Hat-hosted Canada Cup.

Still, the Calgary Winter Club team is not anticipating the feeling of being targeted at the Alberta Scotties, in which the 12-team field looks to be as strong as ever.

“They say that every year,” said Kleibrink, 42. “Cheryl Bernard’s back in it, yes, (after missing last winter’s provincials to concentrate on her pending Vancouver Olympic Games appearance).”

But six-time queen Cathy King of Edmonton isn’t in the hunt.

There’s defending champ Valerie Sweeting, and fellow Edmontonian Heather Nedohin, who is a perennial contender.

Then there’s the contingent from southern Alberta — Calgary’s Heather Rankin, High River’s Tanilla Doyle and 2008 champion Kleibrink, who was last year’s runner-up in the finale at the Calgary Curling Club.

“I don’t know if we’ve ever felt the bullseye on our back at provincials,” Kleibrink said. “It’s such a great field this year — there’s five or six great teams — so I don’t think we’re feeling the pressure at all.

“We’re just the same as we’ve ever been — just take it one game at a time, starting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday night and get at it.

“For us, winning that first game is a big deal. It gets you further ahead in the draw, especially when you get a first-round bye (for being the top Alberta Curling Tour points-getter) like we have.”

Added Webster, “Obviously, the pressure comes from yourself. We’ve been taking a bit different approach. We’ve been a bit more relaxed and casual.”

That just might do the trick.

todd.saelhof@sunmedia.ca


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