Bernard improves to 4-0 at Canadian Olympic curling trials

EDMONTON — Cheryl Bernard hasn’t made it easy on herself at the Canadian Olympic curling trials.

Skip Cheryl Bernard watches her rock while playing Team Scott during the 2009 Canadian Olympic Curling Trials in Edmonton on Tuesday.

EDMONTON — Cheryl Bernard hasn’t made it easy on herself at the Canadian Olympic curling trials.

The Calgary native continued her nail-biting play with a fourth-straight victory Tuesday, stealing four points in the tenth end to seal a 9-7 win over Kelly Scott.

“I’d like just one easy game,” said Bernard after yet another heart-pounding win.

With most experts pegging defending national women’s champion Jennifer Jones or 2006 Olympic bronze medallist Shannon Kleibrink as the favourites to represent Canada at the 2010 Winter Games, Bernard has shown this week that she belongs.

She pulled off five-point double takeout to win one match and claimed another after a measure so close it had to be carried out three times. Bernard sits atop the leaderboard heading into play Wednesday with a 4-0 record.

Bernard was trailing Scott 7-5 heading into the tenth end Tuesday, but the Kelowna, B.C., native couldn’t weave her final shot around Bernard’s well-positioned stones inside the house.

A skip for Alberta in four Scotties Tournament of Hearts, Bernard has been with current teammates Susan O’Connor, Carolyn Darbyshire and Cori Bartel for the last four years.

One of the rink’s best results came last year when it finished third to Kleibrink at the Canada Cup.

The two Calgary rinks meet Wednesday morning in a showdown for first place.

Kleibrink is 3-1 after dispatching Krista McCarville of Thunder Bay, Ont., 7-4 on Tuesday.

Sitting atop the leaderboard, Bernard isn’t thinking about the implications of winning the tournament.

“I don’t see it as a lot different from the Canada Cups that we go to, or the players championships,” said Bernard.

“I understand what’s on the line, we all do, but we really try to put it behind us and try to just enjoy what we’ve got out here.”

Kleibrink lost to Crystal Webster, also of Calgary, on the first day of the tournament but has won every match since and never trailed McCarville on Tuesday.

Kleibrink doesn’t believe her Olympic history will have a bearing on this tournament.

“I think all eight teams here have experience in their own right,” said Kleibrink.

Jones, who faltered out of the gate losing her first two matches at the round-robin tournament, picked up her second consecutive win Tuesday with a 8-7 decision over Webster.

Like Scott, Webster had the game in her hands in the final end but missed while trying to take out Jones’ rock to score two.

Jones, who said earlier in the week her team was just on the wrong side of the inch, improved her record to 2-2.

Asked if her team was getting stronger as the tournament goes on, the Winnipeg native couldn’t help but snicker.

“Wasn’t hard after the first day,” she said.

“Unfortunately, and fortunately, we’ve done this before, we get behind the 8-ball. We know that anything can happen and you can never give up. We’re not quitters, we’re fighters.”

Jones sits in a tie for third place with a 2-2 record, along with McCarville and Stefanie Lawton. Lawton won a battle between Saskatchewan rinks Tuesday, upending Amber Holland 10-4.

Webster, Holland and Scott are tied for fourth with a 1-3 record.

The eight women’s teams began play in the tournament, dubbed the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings Curling Trials, on Sunday. The first-place team at the end of the round robin will advance directly to the final match, while the second and third-place teams will meet in the semifinal.

The tournament champion will represent Canada at the 2010 Olympics.

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