The role of the underdog is nothing new to Canada’s Cheryl Bernard, as it is a familiar situation that she and her fellow teammates have grown accustomed to.
After all, Bernard had never won a major professional women’s competition until she took the 2009 Women’s Canadian Curling Trials that won her the right to represent Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics.
The Women’s Curling tournament will take place at the Vancouver Olympic Centre from Feb. 16 to Feb. 25 and it will once again see Bernard as an underdog to win gold.
She will face stiff competition for a medal from the likes of China’s Bingyu Wang, the reigning world champion and favourite to take home the gold medal, Sweden’s Anette Norberg, who won the gold medal at the 2006 games in Torino and Switzerland’s Mirjam Ott, silver medalist last time.
The rest of the women’s field includes Denmark’s Angelina Jensen, Germany’s Andrea Schopp, Great Britain’s Eve Muirhead, Japan’s Moe Meguro, Russia’s Ludmila Privivkova, and the United States’ Debbie McCormick.
Optimism about leaving Vancouver with a medal is the main thought on Bernard’s mind.
“We have expectations to win a medal as well,” she told CBCSports.ca.
“But it’s sport, and anything can happen out there and I think as long as people see the effort and the commitment that you have to the sport and what you’re trying to do, whatever happens, everyone’s going to be supportive of it.”
Whatever the outcome, Bernard has proven to be a resilient competitor with a flair for the dramatic that was on display during the final of the 2009 Women’s trials.
Bernard’s rink went an impressive 6-1 in the trials to gain an automatic birth in the final. She would win the event 7-6 on her final shot, one that narrowly missed going to long.
The Canadian skip will have the support of the home crowd and this could be both a blessing and a curse. The support may allow her to elevate her game to another level and ride the wave to a podium finish.
On the other hand, she may be burdened by the hopes of the country resting on her shoulders and this could cause Bernard and her teammates to sputter in the spotlight especially considering that Bernard has never represented Canada at an international event.
Looking upon the complete draw it seems that Bernard has garnered a rather favourable draw.
Though she does take on Switzerland’s Ott in the first draw she will only meet China’s Wang and Sweden’s Norberg in the ninth and tenth rounds respectively in the competition which could prove to be an advantage.
If Bernard is able to overcome Ott in the first draw it may give her the ability to build a strong record that could see her through to the playoffs without having to defeat both Norberg and Wang.
The large international experience advantage of Bernard’s competitors could also play a key role in determining the outcome of the event and could prove detrimental to Bernard.