China hands Bernard first curling loss

By TERY JONES, QMI Agency

VANCOUVER — Back at the beginning of these Games, there was worry.

When it came to women’s curling, there was concern. Fear almost.

During the Olympic quadrennial, the curling women of the world had shown signs of catching up to Canada. China won the last world championships, and Canada had only bronze medals to show for the last two Olympics.

And, to top it off, our nation was sending Calgary’s Cheryl Bernard — who had no previous international experience — to try get the job done and win gold.

And all they’d done was win until those world champion Chinese, who have spent the last four years training in the Edmonton area, jumped all over them Sunday night and won 6-5 in an extra end.

Bernard, Susan O’Connor, Carolyn Darbyshire and Cori Bartel emerged 5-0 and the only remaining undefeated team in the round-robin after starting Sunday by scoring a 9-2 win over American skip Debbie McCormick in a game conceded after the seventh end.

At night, it was a different deal, as China scored two with the hammer in the first end, and stole one in the second en route to their win when Bernard missed her last rock shot in yet another extra-end game.

While it was Canada’s first loss at the curling venue, the Canadian women still sit tied with Anette Norberg’s defending gold-medal rink from Sweden at 5-1, while China is now 4-2. It’s Canada-Sweden this afternoon.

Still, the rink has started their bid for Olympic gold with a strong statement, so far. It wasn’t necessarily supposed to work that way.

At an Olympics where suddenly Canada has been coming up short in event after event after a successful first four days, the Canadian women’s curlers were — and still are despite the setback — and on track to avoid being another’could-would-shoulda’ story at these Games.

“I think the pride with us right now is that, while we did have the lack of experience, we’re getting it pretty quickly,” laughed Bernard, who needed to make her last rock shots in the 10th end in her first two games, and needed extra ends to win her next two games.

“For us, the pride is that we’re dealing with it and everything that surrounds it. This team has just handled it amazingly well so far.

“A big part of it is that you realize you’re playing for your country and that’s just another thing on top of it that makes you feel pretty great.”

A bigger part, said second Darbyshire, is that they brought the same attitude to Vancouver 2010 which they brought to the Roar of the Rings Olympic curling trails in Edmonton back in December.

“We just come out and play our best,” she said. “If we do well here or don’t do well here, each one of us is going to go home and be the same person. That’s the attitude we took to the trials, and we’ve brought it here with us. We just want to curl.

“We didn’t listen to what everybody was saying,” said O’Connor. “We knew we were prepared. We believed in ourselves. And we came here to enjoy the experience and to go out there and curl well. So far we’ve been able to do both. But there’s a lot of curling to go yet and we’re not going to get ahead of ourselves now either.”

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca

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