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Kleibrink’s Scotties return a success

ST. CATHARINES, Ont. – Shannon Kleibrink of Alberta is savouring every moment at this year’s Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

Six years have passed since her last trip, but it hardly looked like it as she scored a pair of three-enders on the way to a surprisingly easy 11-6 win over Krista McCarville of Northern Ontario (Thunder Bay).

“It’s great to be here,” Kleibrink said after the win. “I’m cherishing every moment; it’s probably my last.”

Kleibrink beat a very good McCarville team that was the runner-up in 2016, losing the final to Chelsea Carey.

Kleibrink has been at the Scotties five times, but has never won the big prize. She finished second in 2008, and is best known for the bronze medal she won at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games.

“I feel really relaxed,” said Kleibrink, whose Okotoks team is rounded out by vice-skip Lisa Eyamie, second Sarah Wilkes, lead Alison Thiessen, alternate Heather Nedohin and coach/husband Richard Kleibrink. “There is really no pressure on us; we are not one of the top teams. We’re just going to fly under the radar.”

That is unlikely to happen. She laughed when she was reminded of her past successes, including that Olympic medal.

The alternates were having a good time at the Scotties on Saturday night, as evidence by Alberta’s Heather Nedohin, left, and Northern Ontario’s Oye-Sem Won Briand. (Photo, Curling Canada/Andrew Klaver)

“We’ll just do our best and I guess you never know.”

She was asked what it was like to open the competition against a team of McCarville’s calibre.

“I felt like we better be pretty good because they are an awesome team.”

For Wilkes and Thiessen, it is their first Scotties.

“They never showed any nerves at all,” Kleibrink said. “I was the nervous Nellie out there.”

In other games, Kerry Galusha of the Northwest Territories (Yellowknife) defeated Robyn MacPhee of Prince Edward Island (Charlottetown) 9-4 and Stacie Curtis of Newfoundland (St. John’s) topped Penny Barker of Saskatchewan (Moose Jaw) 7-4.

It was the fifth game in three days for Galusha, who advanced to the main event from the pre-qualifying competition. The other 11 teams have each played one so far.

Action resumes Sunday with three draws, at 9:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 7:30. (All times ET)

TSN/RDS2, the official broadcaster of Curling Canada’s Season of Champions, will provide extensive coverage of the 2017 Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

For ticket information, go to: www.curling.ca/2017scotties/tickets/

For schedule information, go to: www.curling.ca/2017scotties/draw/

Live scoring for the 2017 Scotties is available at www.curling.ca/scoreboard/#!/competitions/2236

This story will be available in French as soon as possible at www.curling.ca/2017scotties/?lang=fr