It had to end that way for Cardiac Cheryl.
People believe whatever they need when their rooting interest comes up short. Some will be quick to say Canada choked in a 7-6 extra-end loss to Sweden's Anette Norberg, since Cheryl Bernard had two shots to clinch the gold-medal game. That would be rash. Say they were outstrategized, since they didn't force Norberg to play a shot she didn't want to try and lost control of the extra end.
Canada was fighting it from the early stages, with Sweden's third, Eva Lund, outplaying her counterpart, Susan O'Connor. (That evened out later.) What everyone will have memory burn of is the misses, the hit-and-roll Bernard had with her final shot of the 10th end that opened the door to a tying deuce and the double takeout she missed in the 11th.
It's tempting to jump from here to there and say the pressure of playing at home got to Canada. The rub is that all this came against perhaps the greatest women's team of all time. People might have also overlooked that Bernard lived on margins for the past two weeks. They had gone to the final rock six times, and came up winners in five of those instances. It was the same story at the Canadian Olympic Trials: just have the hammer in the final end.
It was bound to backfire sometime. Friday night, with so many eyeballs that are normally focused anywhere but a curling sheet peering in, was unlucky number seven.
It's funny how the game doesn't change at the Olympics. A skip may become an Internet sensation, there can be a sudden spike in interest in the game, but the inexorable truths of the game are not going to change. There is no end to the way the roaring game can burn someone. The game's diehard fans might find solace in that.
Canada missed a deuce opportunity, barely, in the second, settling for a single. A measurement was needed in the fifth end to give Sweden its deuce. You can't give Norberg a two-point swing at that stage, especially since ice was playing pretty straight, not conducive to putting crooked numbers on the board. There was a little anxiety in the building and in the announcers' voices.
And still, Canada had a chance to win, helped by Norberg giving up a two-point steal in the seventh end after she was light on a draw, one of her mistakes. It was a white-knuckle ride for two hours, really, for two weeks, and silver was more than many expected when Bernard upset Shannon Kleibrink at the Olympic trials.
An inch here, an inch there and Bernard would have ended Canada's gold-medal drought in women's curling.
Silver is fine for Canada. Those are the breaks in curling.