Shannon Kleibrink must have deja-vu on the mind and in the eye as she heads for Saturday’s 6 p.m. Tim Hortons Canadian Curling Trials final at Rexall Place, live on TSN.
The Trials defender and Olympic bronze-medal winner at Torino in 2006, Kleibrink will again use a semi-final win as a springboard, this time in an all-Calgary final against long-time arch-rival Cheryl Bernard.
Four years ago, Kleibrink scored three in the last end to defeat Kelly Scott of Kelowna in the final. Scott had earned the bye to the final, as Bernard earned the current berth.
“The good news is that someone from Calgary will be going to the Olympics,” said Kleibrink with a smile, moments after defeating a dog-tired Krista McCarville team from Thunder Bay 10-5 in Friday night’s semi.
“It’s been like that our whole careers. Bernard is a great team and we’ve battled it out for probably 15 to 20 years. So this is no surprise to us.”
A bettor might be inclined to favour Kleibrink in Saturday’s biggie. She’s overdue. The fact is Bernard has won five straight in this personal battle and eight of the last 10 going back to April, 2006.
“I’ve always said the team that comes out of the semi has a definite advantage,” argued Kleibrink. “You’re out there the day before, you know what the ice conditions are, if they’ve changed or not, it’s an advantage. It’s tough to get through the semi but if you do I’d rather be that team.”
Bernard will direct Susan O’Connor, Carolyn Darbyshire and Cori Bartel in the sudden-death showdown for the date at the Vancouver Olympics.
A steal of two in the second end for a 3-0 spot catapulted Kleibrink and her team of Amy Nixon, Bronwen Webster and Chelsey Bell into the driver’s seat against McCarville, who was playing her third game of the day.
But McCarville, as she’d been inclined to do all day, fired a double-kill in the seventh to square the account, only to lose control of the eighth, miss her last draw and yield a killing five-ender.
“I am tired,” the 27-year-old McCarville admitted later. “I am disappointed that we didn’t play our best that game, because we curled so well earlier. But in the long run, I’m really happy with third place. Obviously I’d love to make it to the Olympics, so hopefully in 2014. And every game was giving us more and more experience, so I think that’s a really good thing. I’m really proud of our team. We worked really hard in the past four years, and this gives us the confidence to know we can compete here and at the Scotties.”
Kleibrink said she was equally proud of her Trials record.
“Three trials, three finals, that’s not bad,” she said. “Won one, lost one. Right now we’re just happy to be in it. It gives me confidence, having been there before. I was confident in my team even in the game today. I feel confident my team will play well on Saturday and I’m sure Cheryl’s will, too. It should be a great game.”
The semi, according to Kleibrink’s vice-skip Amy Nixon, was something of a “gong show”.
“We watched them on TV earlier and they were making great shots so we knew they’d have some chances and we’d probably have some chances,” said Kleibrink. “We just had to capitalize. We thought they might be a little more conservative after they got the three to tie but they’re an aggressive team, they love to play that come-around stuff. Krista goes hard. There are always a lot of rocks around. We don’t mind that but we wouldn’t be adverse to getting away from it.”
Her analysis, meanwhile, of her preliminary fifth-round loss to her final foe on Wednesday morning?
“We had a tight game, played well the first half then kind of fell apart and she had an easy shot for the win.”