Kleibrink returns to trial final

The woman who represented Canadian curling at the Turin Olympics is one win away from doing the same in Vancouver.

Shannon Kleibrink

EDMONTON — The woman who represented Canadian curling at the Turin Olympics is one win away from doing the same in Vancouver.

Shannon Kleibrink, who won the bronze medal at the 2006 Games, advanced to the final of the Canadian Olympic curling trials Friday with a 10-5 win over Krista McCarville.

Kleibrink’s 2010 Olympic dreams appeared to be on the brink after the veteran uncharacteristically gave up three points to McCarville in the seventh end, allowing the Thunder Bay, Ont., skip to tie the game at five.

But after McCarville missed on an attempted double takeout and again on a draw to the button, Kleibrink sealed the deal for her rink with a draw to the house, scoring five in the eighth.

“What a see-saw affair, what a crazy gong show,” Kleibrink’s third, Amy Nixon, said after the win.

“Krista’s team, they play all in and they were all-in in that end and they finally got caught on it.”

Kleibrink, who has now been to the finals in all three Canadian Olympic trials she’s played, will face fellow Calgarian Cheryl Bernard for the right to represent Canada at the Vancouver Games.

“The good news is that somebody from Calgary’s going to the Olympics,” Kleibrink said, laughing. “How exciting is that?”

Bernard beat Kleibrink 8-5 when the two rinks met in the fifth women’s draw and received a bye to the tournament final because she posted the best round robin record of the eight-team field.

Kleibrink’s win Friday ended a tournament run by McCarville that few would have predicted.

The 27-year-old teacher gave birth to daughter Isabella just 10 weeks ago and picked up her best result at a Scotties Tournament of Hearts last year when her rink finished 6-5.

After forcing a tie for the third and final playoff spot at the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings Curling Trials, McCarville won two tiebreaker matches earlier Friday before she succumbed to Kleibrink in the third.

“I’m really proud of our team. We worked really hard in the past four years,” she said.

“It kind of gives us the confidence to know we can make it at the Scotties, we can hopefully win it one day.”

In her first match Friday, McCarville dispatched of Saskatoon’s Stefanie Lawton 7-4 after she hit for four points in the seventh end.

In her second contest, McCarville knocked off another Saskatchewan curler, Kronau’s Amber Holland, 7-6 in 11 ends. Once again, she scored four points with a takeout on her way to the win.

And in what may have been her finest shot of the tournament — certainly, the most pressure-packed — she guided her hammer through a crowded house, knocked out two of Kleibrink’s rocks to score three and drew loud cheers from those in attendance at Rexall Place. But just as quickly as the crowd began to grow abuzz at the thought of an upset, the game again turned in Kleibrink’s favour.

“That last end, a couple of our draws came short and then we just ticked on a few and it was just pretty much bad luck,” she said.

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