The excitement of the Vancouver Olympics is now just a memory, but one that will never fade for Cheryl Bernard and her rinkmates.
Bernard and her Calgary foursome that includes third Susan O’Connor, second Carolyn Darbyshire and lead Cori Morris, was vastly popular with the enthusiastic audiences that packed the Vancouver Olympic/Paralympic Centre on a nightly basis.
The exuberance of the fans helped Bernard and her Team Canada squad post an 8-1 record in the round-robin portion of the competition, and the crowd was extra vocal in the women’s gold-medal game against Sweden’s Anette Norberg, in which the fan favourites came out on the short end of a 7-6, extra-end count.
The silver medallist skip will always remember the exuberance displayed by the mostly Canadian fans in the curling venue.
“It was an experience and it took us a couple of games to actually go ‘OK, we’re going to play with people screaming and yelling while we throw’,
but we really got used to it and then loved it,” said Bernard. “Then we didn’t want them to quit. We got used to the crowds and had a lot of fun with all of the noise and excitement.”
Bernard, who opened the Red Deer Curling Classic with a 6-3 loss to Jessie Kaufman of Edmonton Friday at the Red Deer Curling Centre, is well aware of the curling buzz created by the Olympic exposure.
“What we’ve really noticed is all the different e-mails we’ve received from people in the U.S. and places like Australia. These people have contacted us to say how much they love the game and how much they want to get involved and play the game,” she said. “If the U.S. gets more on board than they are, that will just help our sport.”
The excitement of the Olympics stuck with the Bernard team for some time, but life is now back to normal.
“It’s kind of a new normal, but it’s all been great stuff,” said the skip. “A lot of really great opportunities have come with it and we’ve really enjoyed the whole experience. We’re all back living the game again this season. It’s nice to see that we’re not all burned out and are still enjoying the game.”
A summer-long hiatus helped the four curlers recharge their batteries.
“We took the summer off completely which we never do and I think that was nice,” said Bernard. “It was a good break for all of us and I think we needed it. It’s good to be back, though.”
Bernard was pleased to learn Friday that Red Deer will host the 2012 Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
“As an Albertan I’m glad to see that it’s back in our province,” she said.
“Red Deer has a great track record. The last Scotties here (in 2004) was a big success and I think they’ll do anther fantastic job of hosting it.”
Bernard later fell 10-4 to Cathy Overton-Clapham of Winnipeg.
Kaufman ran her record to 2-0 with a 5-2 win over Jennifer Wickenheiser of Sceptre, Sask., in an evening draw. Also sitting with 2-0 slates were Eve Muirhead of Scotland, Sastsuki Fujisawa of Japan, Heather Nedohin, Faye White and Val Sweeting of Edmonton, Renee Sonnenberg of Grande Prairie and Crystal Webster of Calgary.
On the men’s side, Yusuke Morozumi of Japan opened at 2-0 with 5-1 and 6-3 wins over Lee Hodgson of Lacombe and Rob Armitage of Red Deer.
The Red Deer Curling Classic runs through Monday, with the finals at 3 p.m.
10 a.m. — A event: Faye White 10 Brette Richards 2; Crystal Webster 7 Chelsea Carey 2; Nicole Blenkin 6 JP Armstrong-Smith 4; Renee Sonnenberg 6 Tanilla Doyle 4; Kelley Law 6 Lisa Eyamie 2; Allison MacInnes 6 Shana Snell 4; Valerie Sweeting 6 Silvana Tirinzoni 5; Jill Thurston 8 Adina Tasaka 7.
1 p.m. — A event: Casey Scheidegger 9 Nadine Chyz 3; Jennifer Wickenheiser 10 Cathy Overton-Clapham 1; Eve Muirhead 7 Tracey Jones 3; Jesse Kaufman 6 Cheryl Bernard 3; Heather Nedohin 7 Holly Scott 4; Sastsuki Fujisawa 8 Bobbie Sauder 5; Lisa Johnson 7 Amanda White 5; Desiree Owen 5 Shannon Kleibrink 3.
4 p.m. — A event: Webster 9 MacInnes 4; Sweeting 3 Blenkin 1; White 7 Law 3; Sonnenberg 7 Thurston 4. B event: Tasaka 9 Doyle 4; Armstrong-Smith 6 Tirinzoni 4; Snell 6 Carey 5; Eyamie 4 Richards 3.
7 p.m. — A event: Muirhead 6 Johnson 3; Kaufman 5 Wickenheiser 2; Nedohin 7 Scheidegger 5; Fujisawa 5 Owen 4; B event: Overton-Clapham 10 Bernard 4; Chyz 5 Scott 0; Sauder 7 Kleibrink 4; Jones 9 White 2.
10 a.m. — A event: Geoff Walker 5 Aaron Sluchinski 4; Bryan Kedziora 9 Manuel Ruch 4; Rob Armitage 8 Rob Schlender 7; Yusuke Morozumi 5 Lee Hodgson 1.
1 p.m. — A event: Carol deConick Smith 5 Lowell Peterman 4; Warren Cross 6 Steve Petryk 1; Warren Hassall 5 Leon Moch 2; Jason Montgomery 8 Claudio Pescia 2.
4 p.m. — A event: Brock Virtue 8 Don Walchuk 1; Scott Egger 7 Jeff Richard 5; Tyrell Griffith 5 Dean Ross 4; Brent Bawel 8 Rob Krepps 6.
7 p.m. — A event: Jason Montgomery 10 Hassall 3; Morozumi 6 Armitage 3; deConick Skith 6 Cross 4; Kedziora 5 Walker 4.