Hockey might be Canada’s game, but curling isn’t far behind. Its championships are among the highest-rated sporting events of the year in Canada, and when the rest of the world took notice four years ago and curling became a worldwide fad, the people at Canada stood up like proud parents.
Although the sport originated in Scotland, Canada has taken it under its wing. Canada’s men’s and women’s team have each medaled every year since 1998 — the only team to do so.
When someone like Mike Harris in 1998, or Cheryl Bernard this year, qualifies without having run the gamut of national and international championships, Canadians eye the newcomers with suspicion, quiver with nervousness and strut with pride. They’re terrified that Canada is sending an unknown, but confident that the curling system is so deep that anyone wearing the Maple Leaf should automatically vie for a gold medal. But it seems like Canadians are more hesitant when the team hasn't won a Briar or a Scotties.
For Bernard, it’s been a bit of all three. She finished first in the round-robin and won her semifinal, but repeatedly needed her last shot to win. She’s 9-1, but she’s fighting off a cold. And while the public is eating up tales of her attractiveness, the sporting public hasn't yet decided what to think. It's like finding out Dale Begg-Smith is Canadian, or a goalie from the German league is suiting up for Team Canada. If familiarity breeds contempt, unfamiliarity breeds cautiousness.
So what happens? Does Cheryl Bernard add her name to the list of elite Canadian curlers? Or does she join Harris on the list of outsiders who never quite captured the everlasting love of the country?
Follow along with us at 3 pm PST/6 pm EST as three-time Canadian champion Jennifer Jones, CP curling writer Bill Graveland and more gather to break down tonight’s gold-medal final between Canada and Sweden.