Scott not so hot in early going

JIM BENDER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:23 AM ET

REGINA -- It was only the third day of the Scotties Tournament of Hearts but every-one already had the same question on their minds:

What in the world is the matter with Kelly Scott?

The reigning women's world champion slid into the Hearts on a tear, hoping to win a rare third straight Canadian crown and represent the country at this year's worlds in Vernon, B.C. -- just a long rock-toss from her Kelowna home.

But the transplanted Manitoban has looked nothing like the little on-ice ball of terror that had beaten the best in the country the past two years and is one major-event victory from earning a bye in the 2009 Canadian Curling Trials thus far.

Alberta's Shannon Kleibrink shattered Team Canada 9-4 at the Brandt Centre last night to drop Scott to a shocking 1-4 record.

"It's been a tough start on us and I think we're doing good to keep our spirits up because it is rather frustrating out there," admitted Scott, who was beaten by Nova Scotia's Mary-Anne Arsenault 7-5 in the morning.

And Scott conceded these are now desperate times for her foursome as it can ill afford to lose another.

"You can't panic," she warned. "You can't change what you're doing; you can't try to re-invent the wheel out there. You go out and shoot your shots and hope your luck changes a bit and hope to make those key shots.

"This has never happened to us before. It's testing us ... We're not even looking for playoffs, we're looking for a win."

If there is a silver lining, Scott recalled how she got off to a 1-4 start at the national juniors back in 1995 when she battled back to win it right here in Regina. She then won the worlds, too.

SOLE PERFECT RECORD

Kleibrink, who is on fire, improved to 5-0 and sole possession of first place.

"It's great, we're going to be in A (event)," she said, referring to a cashspiel-like draw. "But you've got to think that someone's going to beat you sometime.

"But my team's just throwing great, there are no technical problems at all ... This is THE strongest team I've ever had and that's with no disrespect to the other teams I had."

Kleibrink, who clipped Nova Scotia 9-7 earlier, has changed her front end since winning the Olympic bronze medal in 2006.

Meanwhile, Ontario's Sherry Middaugh defeated Yukon/NWT's winless Kerry Galusha 9-4 to improve to 4-1 and a tie for second place with Newfoundland's Heather Strong -- who nipped Quebec's Marie-France Larouche 11-8.

"I definitely wouldn't trade this start so, 4-1 after this is feeling pretty good," Middaugh said.

Quebec fell into a four-way tie for fourth with Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia at 3-2.

Arsenault was kicking herself for blowing a 5-2 lead to Kleibrink.

"You hate to lose any game, particularly when you've got them by the ... uh, neck," she said. "But we're still on track. We'll keep on trucking."

Then, with last night and this morning off, she planned to truck into the Hearts Stop Lounge.

"It's time to open up the vineyard," she said.

Don't be surprised if Team Canada chose to join her.


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