Bernard eyes semifinal date with Swiss after clinching No. 1 playoff seed – Metro US

Bernard eyes semifinal date with Swiss after clinching No. 1 playoff seed

VANCOUVER – Even a cold and a game that meant nothing couldn’t slow down Cheryl Bernard.

The Canadian curler wrapped up round-robin play at the Vancouver Olympics on Tuesday night with a 7-3 win over Russia that pushed her Calgary rink’s record to 8-1.

Bernard had already clinched the No. 1 seed in the tournament earlier in the day after defeating Britain.

Bernard will face two-time Olympic silver medallist Mirjam Ott of Switzerland on Thursday in one semifinal, while China will play Sweden in the other.

Bernard declined to speak with reporters after thumping the Russians, and Canadian coach Dennis Balderston said his ace has been feeling under the weather.

“She had a sore throat from all the yelling,” he said. “She was getting a bit of laryngitis and I think it’s developed into a bit of a cold.”

Balderston said the cold shouldn’t be an issue Thursday and that it didn’t hinder Bernard’s performance against Russia.

“If she shoots like that I’m going to plant some bugs in her room more often,” he said with a laugh.

Bernard was trailing Russian skip Anna Sidorova 2-1 in the sixth end when Sidorova sailed her final stone straight through the house on an attempted takeout.

That left Bernard with a routine draw to the rings with her hammer and she didn’t miss, scoring four and putting the game out of reach.

Balderston said he likes where his team is at, heading into the matchup with Switzerland.

“They’re shooting very well, they’re in a very good comfort zone and they’re not afraid to lose,” he said.

They’re also finding new ways to win. The Canadians picked up four steals against 19-year-old British skip Eve Muirhead during their first win of the day.

“That was again one of our better games, up in the top couple of per cent,” Bernard said after the victory over the British.

Then, in what may be a terrifying realization for the rest of the playoff field, she added: “I still think there’s room, I think we can improve a little bit more.”

Bernard played Ott in her Olympic debut Feb. 16 and won 5-4 after a harrowing draw with the hammer in the 10th end.

The loss was the first of three in a row for Ott to start the tournament, though she rebounded by winning her final six contests.

Bernard said she, third Susan O’Connor, second Carolyn Darbyshire and lead Cori Bartel expect a tough match against the Swiss.

“We’re going to have to play like we’ve been playing, even a little bit better,” she said.

The Canadians were helped by the fact that Muirhead struggled to find her feel for the rock.

The British skip missed routine draws with her hammer in the second, seventh and eighth ends, allowing Canada to steal points all three times.

As for the woman Bernard will meet in the semifinal, Ott said she’s feeling confident after opening the tournament with losses to Canada, China and Sweden.

“We knew we had a hard start and we had very close losses and we were still confident,” Ott said. “It was tough for us to keep going on but we did it well and I’m proud of my team.”

Ott said she has played Bernard in tournaments before and watched a few of her games.

She said it will be hard enough taking on the Canadian rink — never mind the boisterous fans.

“I hope it will be a good game and a tough game and that there are some people cheering a little bit for us,” she said.

The bad news for Ott might well be that the three teams she lost to in the round-robin are the three in the playoff round alongside her.

Sweden, which finished 7-2 overall, will hold the hammer when it scares off against 6-3 China.

“Our goal coming here was to be in the playoffs so we are there now so we’re very happy with that,” said Swedish skip Anette Norberg.

Norberg beat China, skipped by Bingyu Wang, earlier in the tournament, but was on the wrong end of a heartbreaking game against the Chinese in the world championship last year.

“We played them in the final last year at the worlds but we lost the final,” Norberg said.

“But that was not one of our best games ever. Hopefully we’ll do better this time.”

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