Wrong time to hear your brother won gold

JIM BENDER

, Last Updated: 1:19 PM ET

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. -- Pardon the interruption.

Newfoundland third Shelley Nichols was competing at the Hot Shots competition before the national women's curling championship a year ago when an image that will remain in her memory was flashed on the overhead scoreboard.

Her brother, Mark, had just won Olympic gold as third for Brad Gushue in Italy.

"I talk about it all the time to my friends because everyone was like, 'Where were you when they won the gold medal?'" Nichols recalled before yesterday's Hot Shots at the Enmax Centre. "Well, I was on the ice throwing for a car and I was 10 for 10 on my points. Then they (Gushue) shook and it was in the hack, in the hack. I still blame Mark, he doesn't like it very much.

"I ran back and watched. And they played Ode to Newfoundland and had the replay of all the shots and all the great shots that Mark had made during that final and man, it was emotional. It really was."

Tears streamed down her cheeks.

"It's been great," Nichols said. "We've got a hero in the family now. Can't you tell? I'm so pale because I'm going to be in my brother's shadow forever."

Or at least until she wins one of her own.

"It's achievable. I mean, the girls showed that last weekend," she said. "(Newfoundland's) junior girls won the Canadians so, it shows that it's achievable and it puts hope in yourself and makes you believe you can do it."

Nichols opted to stay at home to play for Heather Strong at the nationals. They finished 7-4 and lost a tie-breaker.

HOMETOWN GAL: Alberta's Cheryl Bernard, who hails from nearby Calgary, will be a crowd favourite here.

"It's awesome to be in Alberta with Alberta fans, they're the best," she said. "They're going to help us this week. (Pressure) won't be a problem because they will be great fans and it will be great to have them behind us."

Bernard has returned for the first time since 1996 and comes on the heels of writing the curling book, Between the Sheets.

"Maybe that helped," she said. "I follow a lot of the stuff that's in there and I'm glad I did get back after that."

BY GEORGE: B.C.'s Georgina Wheatcroft has returned to the nationals at third for Kelley Law after playing lead for Team Canada's Jennifer Jones last year. And it was suggested that Jones, who recently replaced her lead, misses her.

"Does she?" Wheatcroft asked coyly. "But I back the girls (Jones), they do what they've got to do. They've got good people and I'm sure they made the decision they felt they needed to make."

Wheatcroft has reunited with Law, who won Olympic bronze with her in 2002.

"It's great," Wheatcroft said. "Kelley and I have some great history together and some chemistry, so it's exciting to be back."

HOT SHOTS: Both Wheatcroft and Alberta's Cori Bartel led the first round of the Hot Shots. Second Jill Officer was the only Team Manitoba player to advance to today's final round in third place.

BITER: Although perfume was banned during last year's nationals after Nova Scotia's Mary-Anne Arsenault suffered an allergic reaction, there has been no such edict issued this year.


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