VANCOUVER — The flair for the dramatic that Cheryl Bernard showed at the Canadian Olympic curling trials in Edmonton is back on display at the Winter Games in Vancouver.
Bernard notched her second consecutive win to start the women’s Olympic curling tournament Wednesday with a 7-6 decision over Japan’s Moe Meguro.
The Calgary skip trailed 6-5 heading into the 10th end but took out a Japanese rock with her hammer, scoring two and sending more than 5,000 boisterous fans into a frenzy.
The climactic shot capped what was far from Bernard’s best game. The 43-year-old came up short on two consecutive attempts in the second end and allowed her Japanese counterpart to jump out to a 3-0 lead.
“Sometimes we’re going to have to win some ugly and that was one of them,” Bernard told a news conference that was delayed for more than half an hour while she completed a urine test.
“We have to be sharper than that and I definitely have to play sharper than that.”
Bernard kicked off the tournament, and her Olympic career, on Tuesday with a win over two-time silver medallist Mirjam Ott of Switzerland. The two rinks were tied heading into the final frame, when Bernard drew to the four-foot circle with her hammer to claim victory.
“It’s nice those are working out,” Bernard said with a smile Wednesday.
At the curling trials in December, Bernard stormed out to six consecutive victories, winning several games in the final end. One of those wins came on a five-point double takeout, while another was confirmed only after a measure so close it had to be carried out three times.
In the trials final, Bernard spun a nervewracking last stone into the eight-foot marker against former Olympic bronze medallist Shannon Kleibrink, clinching Bernard’s spot in Vancouver.
“We do know how to dig,” she said after knocking off Meguro. “The trials, we didn’t start out playing strong, our percentages weren’t way up there.”
While the Canadian team’s shooting percentages left room for improvement Wednesday — Bernard made 75 per cent of her attempts, as did third Susan O’Connor — the Japanese rink wasn’t any better.
Meguro shot 54 per cent and her third, Anna Ohmiya, finished at 70 per cent.
While Bernard is off to a strong start, defending Olympic champion Sweden currently leads the standings with a 3-0 record. Anette Norberg’s rink won twice Wednesday, following an 8-7 extra-end win over Switzerland with a 6-4 win over Britain.
Norberg seemed like she would win in a rout after she stole a point in the first two ends and had a comfortable 4-1 lead heading into the fifth. But Britain came back, scoring one in the ninth to pull to within a point before Norberg put the game away with one in the 10th and final end.
After Sweden’s early win over Switzerland — a rematch of the Games final in Turin — Norberg said she is pleased with how the play of her rink is progressing.
Canada and Germany are tied for second at 2-0 after two draws.
At just 19 years old, British skip Eve Muirhead is considered one of the rising stars of the sport. Her rink, which opened with a 5-4 win over Chinese medal hopeful Wang Bingyu earlier Wednesday, fell to 1-1. In other results from Wednesday’s late draw, China downed Switzerland 8-6 and Russia downed Denmark 7-3.