Kleibrink clinches a spot in Saturday’s page playoffs
Amy Nixon has been down this road before, so wasn’t spending Thursday evening at the Encana Centre jumping for joy
The lively vice-skip for Calgary’s Shannon Kleibrink quartet had just signed the official scoresheet documenting a 10-4 victory over fellow Calgary skip Crystal Webster in the A-event final of the Scotties Alberta women’s curling championship, clinching a berth in Saturday’s Page playoffs.
But instead of relishing the fact that her team — rounded out by second Bronwen Webster and lead Chelsey Bell — was just two victories away from an Alberta title and a spot in the Scotties Tournament of Hearts next month in Charlottetown, Nixon was gently lecturing her inquisitor that it’s hardly time to celebrate.
“Well, this is exactly what happened last year,” noted Nixon. “And we lost the final (to Val Sweeting of Edmonton). So it’s not that exciting.
“We’re still alive; that’s all I care about, honestly. When we came here, we were like, OK, let’s qualify (for the playoffs) and we’ll see what happens. That’s where we are, and that’s good.”
Yes, there is work to do before Kleibrink can celebrate a fourth Alberta championship, but the way her team has played here would seem to indicate that there’s a little more enthusiasm about the proceedings here than Nixon is admitting to.
“Oh, yeah, for sure,” admitted Kleibrink, 42. “I mean, we’ve played in bonspiels this season that aren’t really for anything. So, this is the biggest event for us, and you get those little butterflies.”
Those butterflies have been largely absent since December 2009, when Kleibrink suffered a crushing loss to fellow Calgarian Cheryl Bernard in the final of the Tim Hortons Olympic Trials.
““Well, I think when you lose a big, big game like the Trials (final), and you spend the next year watching another team have everything you could have had, but for one rock, this (provincials) is not that big of a deal,” said Nixon with a smile. “And, really, you have no choice (other than to think that way). If you can’t park it, you might as well not play, right? And I think over the course of the season, we’ve managed to do that. Curling is a funny sport, things can happen, so instead of expecting it, you just put yourself in a position to get it and see what happens.”
While the whole team has taken a rather laissez-faire attitude toward the 2010-11 season, a year that has little or no bearing on the qualifying process for the 2013 Olympic Trials, it has played well enough to sit fourth in the Canadian Team Ranking System Standings.
And the No. 2 seed has lived up to that ranking here, putting together two more solid performances on Thursday to reach the Page one-two playoff game, which ensures two lives in the playoffs.
Kleibrink opened the day with an 8-6 win over Edmonton’s Heather Nedohin, racing to a 5-1 lead through three ends.
Then, against Webster’s half-Calgary, half-Edmonton squad, Kleibrink broke out of the gates with five in the first end, gave three back in the second, and then outscored Webster 5-1 down the stretch.
“We had a really tough first end,” conceded Webster, who along with third Lori Olson-- Johns, second Joanne Taylor and lead Sam Preston drops into this afternoon’s B-event semifinal against top-seeded Bernard (an 8-4 winner over Grande Prairie’s Desiree Owen on Thursday night. “The ice was different tonight, and obviously it caught us off guard right off the bat. We didn’t miss by a lot, but they just ended up in brutal spots in that first end and we paid the price.”
That price includes being back on the ice today in pursuit of a berth in tonight’s B-event final (the winner of which will play Kleibrink Saturday in the Page one-two game).
Kleibrink’s team, on the other hand, has today off. And yeah, they’ve got plans.
“You know what? We are very fortunate,” chortled Nixon. “Heather Nedohin (who served as the Kleibrink team’s fifth player during the 2009 Olympic Trials) hooked us up with a massage therapist at the Trials, and she wanted to come here this week. So we’re going to have great massages in our room (today), which is fantastic.”
The other B-event semi this afternoon features Nedohin, who thumped Casey Scheidegger of Lethbridge 8-2 on Thursday night, against Jessie Kaufman of Edmonton, who toppled Tanilla Doyle of High River 10-4.