Calgary’s Cheryl Bernard is back in Olympic-Games form and she’ll face Saskatoon’s Stefanie Lawton to provide conclusive proof when the women’s scrapping at Canada Cup of Curling winds up in a battle for $25,000 today (Sunday) at 11 a.m.
Bernard and Lawton took turns making short work of an 18-game winning streak amassed by Calgary’s Shannon Kleibrink heading into Saturday’s Page playoffs.
Winning her eighth straight over her cowtown rival, Bernard and her team of Susan O’Connor, Carolyn Darbyshire and Cori Morris stole vital fifth- and sixth-end singles en route to a 6-4 duke in the Page One morning match and advanced directly to the championship final.
Kleibrink appeared frustrated by a relentless Lawton onslaught in the afternoon semi-final and surrendered 8-4.
Lawton, with Sherry Anderson, Sherri Singler and Marliese Kasner operating efficiently in front, clobbered Krista McCarville of Thunder Bay 9-2 to emerge from the sudden-death Page Two scuffle.
“We came to play today and it really showed,” said the 30-year-old Lawton. “We made all kinds of shots. They (Kleibrink) just struggled with draw weight and having an early lead we were able to hit away.”
Much was being made of the addition of veteran skip Sherry Anderson to Lawton’s lineup.
“She brings a ton of experience,” says Lawton, who moved sister Marliese down to lead when Anderson became available. “And she brings a calming manner.”
Said Anderson, who closed out the Saturday semi with a triple takeout: “Maybe the time is right for this now. We’re still in the honeymoon stage but it has been enjoyable.
“I think, from experience playing with your family, playing with sisters, it’s different and you do things differently with somebody who’s not your sister. It’s probably working well in the house with Stefanie because we’re more of a team and not two sisters back there, if you get what I mean. And Marliese is playing so well at lead, she hasn’t missed a double this year, I don’t think.”
Lawton said her team will need “the A-game” if it hopes to compete with the Olympians Sunday.
On the subject of A-games, Bernard and her mates appeared to be rounding into peak form in the morning.
“Club curling and club ice are pretty tricky, and have never been our forte,” said Bernard, who won a silver medal at Vancouver.
“This is really nice to get out on this ice. Everybody’s playing great and having fun and doing what we need to do out there.
“My stomach is going again, just like the Olympics and the Trials. It’s amazing how quickly it comes back. And that was a concern at the beginning of the year. We wondered if we would still have that (magic). But it’s right back there.”
Bernard’s win was her eighth straight against arch-rival Kleibrink. The latter skip’s last decision in this personal battle was at Calgary’s Autumn Gold Classic in the fall of 2008.
In the afternoon, Lawton picked up a first-end single and stole a critical pair and a 3-0 lead in the second when Kleibrink’s last rock ticked a guard.
The Calgarian, with third Nixon, second Bronwen Webster, lead Chelsey Bell, drew for a pair in the third but missed a difficult double in the fourth leaving Lawton a routine draw for another deuce.
Lawton executed a double-kill in the fifth and Kleibrink was forced to settle for one. Then Lawton sparkled again in the sixth with a first-rock double-angle runback on a buried enemy stone and wound up drawing the four-foot for yet another deuce when Kleibrink’s sweepers allowed her last freeze attempt over-curl in the middle ring.
The jig was quickly up in the seventh after Nixon, coming off 24 hours of sick leave, executed a cross-the-rings double to set up a seemingly certain deuce. After Lawton killed one enemy brick, a frustrated Kleibrink was short on a draw to the rings, then rubbed her own stone with her last and left Lawton with the theft of a singleton.
“We’ve played some lights-out games here so we felt at the top of our game and I think we’ll go into the provincials with that in mind,” said Kleibrink.
“I had difficulty with draw weight (against Lawton). It was challenging ice and we didn’t get it and they obviously did. With ice like that, when you’re not quite sure and they’re hitting well, you’re in trouble.”