Calgary’s Cheryl Bernard figures she’s played in at least 10 previous Vernon cashspiels, winning three times under intense pressure and great expectations.
This time, Bernard and company are basic tourists in the $54,000 Prestige Hotels & Resorts Curling Classic. They plan to chill at the hotel, sip some red wine and catch up with family news.
They are not, however, giftwrapping any eight-enders to the competition. Bernard is supported by third Susan O’Connor, second Carolyn McRorie (nee Darbyshire) and lead Cori Morris (nee Bartel).
Bernard topped the women’s table at 4-0 after bouncing Kelly Scott of Kelowna Saturday morning. Scott fell to 3-1 in the 28-rink affair.
The Bernard foursome claimed a silver medal at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, losing 7-6 to Sweden’s Anette Norberg) in an extra end.
“We always love coming here so when we decided to have a reunion with our Olympic team, and this was the place,” smiled Bernard, 49, stretching in the curling club lobby prior to her Friday 1 p.m. draw.
“I’m working for TSN and Carolyn wanted time off with her kids, and Cori and Sue just had kids so everybody’s all at different stages. This is for fun, but everytime we walk out there, the competitive juices get right up here again.”
Team Bernard lost the semifinal of the 2011 Alberta Scotties Tournament of Hearts and then disbanded.
Shannon Aleksic, who used to curl for Kelley Law of Richmond and Bernard, was a fifth for Scott at a couple of national Scotties. Aleksic now throws third stones for Scott, who has Jenna Loder and Sarah Pyke at front end.
“It’s a brand new kind of foursome and we’re definitely starting a bit later in the season compared to other teams from other provinces, but we’re happy that our first two games went well and we’re playing well,” said Scott, 38.
World Curling Tour cashspiels in Calgary, Portage la Prairie and Saskatoon are on Scott’s October calendar. Aleksic will play for Team B.C, at the national mixed, Nov. 6-15, in North Bay, Ont. before Team Scott gets into playdown season in hopes of reaching the national Scotties in Grande Prairie.
“I like what I see so far,” said Scott before her Friday afternoon draw. “Great level of consistency throughout the lineup, great upbeat girls, lots of energy out there and we’re all bringing past experiences to the table. Jenna’s played with Cathy Overton and she was in Saskatchewan last winter so she brings some new perspectives. We’re still just learning and figuring things out.”
Defending Prestige women’s champion Ayumi Ogasawara says her rink is not feeling any extra pressure and also faces a hectic cashspiel run.
“We’re going to Calgary and Kamloops, then back to Japan for two weeks and then back to Canada for three weeks,” said Ogasawara, 36, who was 2-2 after losing 5-4 to Kesa Van Osch of Nanaimo early Saturday.
Chelsea Carey of Calgary and Kelsey Rocque of Edmonton were both at 3-0 going into Saturday afternoon draws.
The women’s final goes today at 3 p.m. with the champion earning $8,000 and the loser collecting $6,000.
On the 12-team men’s side, New Westminster skips Sean Geall and Dean Joanisse were both 2-0 heading into Saturday action.
Geall iced Yusuke Morozumi of Japan 6-1 and stopped Stephen Schenieder of Vancouver/Vernon 5-2.
Joanisse brushed back Dave Merklinger of Vernon 6-4 and dispatched Pat Simmons of Calgary 5-1.
Vernon’s Jim Cotter grounded defending champion Grant Dezura of Maple Ridge 5-3. Cotter was leading Geall 6-2 after six ends at press time Saturday at 12:30 p.m.
The men’s final goes Monday at 12:30 p.m. Winner gets $5,000.