SLAM!Sports
February 23, 2006
Gold beyond the 'brink
Bronze now the best Calgary rink can do after loss to Swiss
By ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

PINEROLO, Italy -- Overcome with sickness and emotion, Amy Nixon stepped off the ice, crumpled to her knees, lowered her forehead to the ground and cried.

Having just shaken the hands of Mirjam Ott's Swiss rink after a 7-5 loss in the Olympic curling semifinal, the exhausted third on Shannon Kleibrink's Calgary rink could finally let it all out.

Despite a long, rinkside hug from her father minutes later, the tears continued.

"It's been a tough two or three days," said her father and coach Daryl Nixon, of a flu-like sickness doctors haven't been able to pinpoint.

"She had worked so hard to build enough energy to play the game so, when it was over, that just kind of released. She probably was 60 percent at the start of the game and she was just trying to run on fumes. She just doesn't have a lot of energy left."

Two days after her illness forced her to miss the final round- robin game, the 28-year-old

Calgarian did what she could to help a team that gave up three in the third end and never recovered.

"Amy is not usually like that but she's also very sick, so it's very hard for her to be out there. I think she's pretty emotional because of that," said Kleibrink, 37, whose lead, Invermere's Christine Keshen, is just getting over some sort of bug.

"It's disappointing but, at the same time, we've had such a hard week with so many people getting sick. Amy can barely sweep halfway down the ice right now. If we can come away with a medal, we'll be very happy."

Forced to sit on the back bumper to rest after throwing her rocks, Nixon was unable to provide the type of leadership her Winter Club crew has counted on.

"When you're trying to stand up, it's a bit difficult to be positive and cheer on your teammates," said Nixon, who has lost considerable weight off her 118-lb. frame.

"I'm usually an energy, firecracker kind of person, so it's challenging for the team when that's the kind of person I was out there today.

"That's no excuse. I still have to make shots."

Whether she'll be well enough to make shots this morning will be decided after warmup as the team contemplates putting in Sandra Jenkins, who filled in admirably Monday.

Regardless of the quartet they ice for the bronze-medal matchup against Dordi Nordby's Norwegian rink, Calgary's Glenys Bakker said it will be easy to bounce back.

"Getting up for (today's) game won't be difficult at all -- we want to go home with a medal -- I don't care what colour it is," said Bakker, whose squad beat Norway 10-8 in the round-robin.

"We missed a couple key shots early on when we could have gotten deuces and they didn't miss after that."

Although Keshen curled at 84%, her teammates were all in the 60% range, making it surprising they crawled back into the game in the seventh end when a measurement gave the team two and closed the gap to 5-4. However, Kleibrink's final shot of the eighth end didn't curl and stayed wide, allowing Ott to finish with a delicate raise to score two for a 7-4 lead.

Anette Norberg's Swedish rink beat Norway 5-4 with a last-rock takeout in the other semifinal.

The Calgary rink will now look to extend Canada's Olympic women's curling medal string to three after the late Sandra Schmirler won the inaugural Olympic gold in 1998 and Kelley Law's team won bronze in 2002.

"I definitely don't have very good memories of this place yet," said Nixon. "So it would be good tomorrow to come out and have a memory to wrap around my neck."


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