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    Martin dominates Howard to gain Canadian Olympic men's curling berth

    By Bill Graveland (CP) – 1 hour ago

    EDMONTON — Olympic silver medallist Kevin Martin will get his opportunity to go for gold at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

    The Edmonton skip lived up to his top billing Sunday beating long-time rival Glenn Howard 7-3 in the final of the Canadian Olympic curling trials.

    "The guys played an awesome game today. They really set it up well for us. What a great day," a jubilant Martin said moments after the game.

    "We put a lot of pressure on them early in the game."

    Martin, who started the game with hammer, took control early and was leading 5-1 after five ends.

    The 43-year-old Martin last represented Canada at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake, where he settled for silver after losing to Norway's Pal Trulsen in the final.

    "We made it in 2002. Now to get another crack at it, it's a dream come true," said Martin, who was still letting the victory sink in.

    "I think there's so much going on right now through the body that I haven't thought of that yet. We've just got to cherish this moment. That's a big win," he added.

    His third John Morris is getting his first crack at going to the Olympic Games.

    "Couldn't be happier. Dream's come true. We're going to go to Vancouver and we're going to do our best to bring home that gold, boys," said Morris, who gave full marks to Martin.

    "The last two games, Kevin was just like the Brier last year where he gets that look in his eye where he's not missing very many shots. When he's got that look in his eye, you just stand back and watch and enjoy."

    The two teams started out slowly. Martin was unable to set up the end to score his deuce, so he ended up blanking the first.

    In the second, Morris missed on a takeout of the Howard stone and sailed through the house. But Howard missed a double raised runback, setting Martin up an easy draw for a 2-0 lead.

    Things continued to go badly for the Howard team in the third end. Martin buried two rocks behind cover to leave Howard a tough draw for a single point. The skip from Coldwater, Ont., was a little heavy on his draw, surrendering a steal of one to give Martin a 3-0 lead.

    In the fourth end, Howard was forced to score just a single point when his raised double attempt just failed to remove Martin's stone, which ended up second shot.

    By the fifth end break Martin had increased his lead to 5-1. Howard just missed a cross-house double and Martin easily drew for a deuce.

    In the sixth, Martin's double takeout forced Howard to blank the end to retain hammer going into the seventh.

    Howard, a former Brier and world champion, drew for two points in the seventh end to make the score 5-3.

    Martin got into a bit of trouble in the eighth when Morris rubbed on a guard in an attempt to clear the house. Facing two Howard stones, Martin fired in his final rock to make a hit for a single point and went up 6-3.

    Howard's draw for a single point in the ninth end came up short - giving up a steal of one and gave Martin a 7-3 lead.

    Despite his successes, Howard has had trouble putting Martin away in big games. At the 2008 Brier in Winnipeg, Martin dumped Howard in both the round-robin and again in the final on his way to running up a 13-0 record.

    "Yeah it's really tough. I can't believe how many shots that were so close that just didn't happen today. Too bad. Kudos to Kevin and the boys. they came out guns a-blazin' and they deserved to win," he said.

    "Coming second is like kissing your sister. It's not a lot of fun and I don't recommend it at all."

    Last March, Martin prevailed in a pair of nailbiters at the Calgary Brier. A win in the final round-robin game gave Martin first place, and he then defeated Howard in the one-versus-two playoff before watching him lose to Jeff Stoughton in the semifinal.

    There were 11,778 fans watching the men's final. Attendance for the week ended up at 175,852.

    Martin will be joined by Cheryl Bernard of Calgary. Bernard, 43, finished first in the round robin at the trials and made a draw for a single point in the 10th to beat Olympic bronze medallist Shannon Kleibrink 7-6 in Saturday's women's final.

    Bernard, who admitted before the event she had never dreamt about going to the Olympics before, says that has certainly changed now.

    "You know now I can and I'll love it. I just didn't want to before," said Bernard.

    "I had a good feeling going into the game but you just don't want to dream too much and get ahead of yourself. Now I'm going to be able to do it every night for the next nine weeks."

    Martin and Bernard will represent Canada at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, where the curling competition takes place Feb. 16-27 at the Olympic/Paralympic Centre.

    As the trials winners, the teams will receive $180,000 over a 30-month period from Sport Canada as A-carded athletes.

    In addition, the Canadian Curling Association has allocated $50,000 from the curling trials' net profit to be directed to the team to help defray Olympic-related costs for both the team and family members for such things as accommodation, tickets and training and competition expenses.

    Copyright © 2009 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.



    Bernard to represent Canadian women's curling at Vancouver Olympics

    By Sunny Dhillon (CP) – 19 hours ago

    EDMONTON — Cheryl Bernard will represent Canadian women's curling at the Vancouver Olympics.

    Bernard knocked off fellow Calgarian and 2006 Olympic bronze medallist Shannon Kleibrink 7-6 on Saturday night to win the Canadian Olympic curling trials and cement her place at the 2010 Games.

    The game was tied 6-6 in the 10th end when Bernard went for the winning draw with her final shot. The crowd held its breath until the rock came to a stop at the back of the four-foot for the winning point.

    Bernard and her teammates hugged and rejoiced on the ice, before continuing the celebration with their friends and family.

    Bernard was in tears as the team received its medals and the national anthem played in the background.

    "I don't think it's sunk in and it's just the most amazing feeling," said Bernard.

    The final shot had no shortage of emotion for Bernard. She initially thought she had left the draw heavy but was overjoyed to see the stone come to a stop.

    "I knew when I sat down there that there was going to be a little bit of adrenaline. It is a shot to go to (the) Olympics," she said.

    "I made it a little harder than I wanted but it ended up fine."

    Bernard, 43, has skipped Alberta in four Scotties Tournament of Hearts but has never won a tournament of this magnitude.

    "It's the biggest one to win and we did it," she said. "All the learning that we've gone through by losing some of the tougher finals, we've stuck together as a team no matter what and came out and it was worth it this game."

    The win capped off a dominating week for Bernard, lead Cori Bartel, second Carolyn Darbyshire and third Susan O'Connor, who stormed out to a 6-0 start at the trials.

    Bernard's only loss of the tournament came after she had already clinched a spot in the final, and she showed a flair for the dramatic by winning several games in the final end - including one with a five-point double takeout.

    O'Connor ran over to the boards and hugged and kissed her husband Todd Brick as the game ended.

    "Oh God. Our team has worked so hard and we're truly a team and it's nice to win," she added, brushing away the tears.

    "I don't know what else to say. I'm just so happy."

    Bernard, by virtue of her better round-robin record, started the final game against Kleibrink with the hammer.

    She inadvertently scored one in the first end - she was trying to blank - when her last rock knocked Kleibrink's stone out of the house but stayed in the rings.

    Bernard increased her lead to 2-0 by stealing one in the second. She made a masterful draw to the four-foot and forced Kleibrink to attempt a difficult takeout with the hammer, which she missed.

    Kleibrink would again miss with the hammer one end later. Attempting a draw for two, Kleibrink threw her stone with far too much weight and had to settle for one.

    Her shooting percentage through three ends was just 38 per cent. She finished at 68 per cent.

    Kleibrink was understandably disappointed after the loss, her second in the final of a Canadian Olympic curling trials. She was beaten by eventual gold medallist Sandra Schmirler in the 1997 trials as well.

    "They were the best team all week and they sure played well in that game so I think they're going to be a great (representative) for Canada," said Kleibrink.

    She downplayed any notion that her team was nervous heading into the final and said they were instead fooled by the ice in some spots.

    Like Bernard, Kleibrink thought the final draw in the 10th was heavy.

    "We thought maybe it was heavy but it came down really hard in the middle there," she said.

    Bernard scored one in the fourth end to take a 3-1 lead but could have had more. Kleibrink's third, Amy Nixon, landed a critical double takeout to minimize the damage.

    Kleibrink made a pivotal shot of her own one end later, pumping her fist as her rock snuck through a bevy of others to push Bernard's off the button. She had to settle for a single point after her final shot ran long.

    Bernard continued the string of singles, increasing her lead to 4-2 after six ends with a draw to the four-foot.

    Nixon would again come to her team's rescue in the seventh end by feathering a couple of draws into the eight-foot.

    Kleibrink then knocked Bernard's stone out of the house with the hammer, scoring three and taking her first lead of the night at 5-4.

    Bernard regained her lead one end later, scoring two with the hammer. She sent her stone through a narrow opening, knocked out a Kleibrink rock and stuck in the house.

    After the shot, Bernard triumphantly held her broom over her head with both hands as the crowd cheered wildly.

    Kleibrink looked poised to jump back out in front in the ninth end but with her last stone, Bernard threw a freeze to the eight-foot, forcing Kleibrink to settle for one and tie the score at six.

    That set the stage for the tenth end, where Bernard's draw clinched her rink's spot at the Vancouver Games.

    By winning the trials, Bernard's rink will receive $180,000 over 30 months from Sport Canada. They'll also get $50,000 from the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings host committee and the Canadian Curling Association.

    As two of the top four seeds at the trials, both rinks have already received $40,000 each from Own the Podium 2010.

    Own The Podium is the $117-million, five-year plan to help Canada win more medals than any other country at its own Games.

    Copyright © 2009 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.


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