February 24, 2006
Kleibrink win good as gold
Women take bronze in 11-5 blowout
TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

PINEROLO, Italy -- There's winning. And then there's not losing.

This was not losing.

Shannon Kleibrink didn't become Sandra Schmirler, the curler who won gold in Nagano in 1998. But she also didn't become the first Canadian not to win a curling medal at the Olympics.

"That thought did cross my mind occasionally," the Calgary skip said after it was over, which was pretty much after the first end in a bronze medal blowout against Dordy Nordby of Norway.

Like Kelley Law four years ago in Salt Lake, Kleibrink managed to at least bring back a bronze. Kleibrink, third Amy Nixon, second Glenys Bakker and lead Christine Keshen - coached by Amy's father Daryl of St. Albert - who all played brutally in losing the semifinal, were never in danger of dealing Canada out of the medals like the hockey team did the night before in Torino.

But going into the game ...

"I thought about it. I didn't like the idea at all," said Keshen, the lead who slept in and missed the first end of a night game in the round robin.

"We're not going home empty-handed anyways," said Bakker.

Considering what they'd been through with sickness during the Olympic tournament, Kleibrink declared it as good as gold.

"Having had the two weeks we've had, the bronze feels like gold to us. I'm so glad we finally brought our 'A' game."

Nixon, who was so sick with suspected food poisoning that she had to miss a game and had to sit down between ends in the semifinal, threw herself into the arms of her father/coach at the back of the boards when it was over.

"Certainly I'd prefer a gold medal, but I thought I wasn't going to make it through the week. I thought I was going to be IVing it. So, personally, I'm pretty happy with a bronze medal. "We're going to be on the podium and that's going to be a good memory. Maybe it wasn't exactly the dream, but nobody can take away our bronze medal."

It was Canada's 19th medal at these Olympic Winter games - 20th if you count the gold or silver Brad Gushue's Newfoundland rink will end up with after today's gold medal game in men's curling.

And it was a walkover. It was over before most of the fans had walked into the building.

Nordby was even worse than Kleibrink's rink in losing the semifinal to Switzerland's Mirjam Ott the day before, with Kleibrink curling 66%, Nixon 65% and Bakker 61%.

In this one Nordby threw 56%.

"My first rock on the first end picked on something then I pushed out my draw. They score four," said Nordby.

Kleibrink needed only a simple direct-hit takeout with last rock to score the four.

"The second end we tried to get offensive and I threw a stone that curled maybe two centimetres too far, and they stole one. So they lead 5-0, they can play defence and we're in big trouble," said the Norway skip.

"Out on the ice we were recalling our game against Colleen Jones at the Worlds in 2002," she said of the Canadian.

"She was ahead 6-1 and we won 8-6. It was probably the most miserable loss of her life. So you don't give up. But we were in a lot of trouble."

Kleibrink made it a total laugher when Nordby fired one through the house and the Canadian skip had the entire house to draw to for four more. It was 9-2 after six and Nordby ended up shaking hands in the ninth with the game going into the books as an 11-5 Canadian win.

With the exception of Bakker, who was nursing baby girl Sara at the Olympic Trials in Halifax back in December, it turned out to be a largely emotion-free medal for the team.

Bakker ended up in tears when it was over, choking up about what it was like to leave her six-month-old daughter at home.

"It's been an incredible maternity leave," she said. "I so miss my kids. I just can't discuss it."