Susan O and her second Maple Leaf

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Here they are... Canadian curling's heroines in Vancouver (click to increase photo size).


Not to disparage the front end – certainly not! But it's the back end that has made the noise at the Olympic Winter Games.

Cheryl Bernard, at right, is turning heads left and right. She wishes it would be about curling – only curling – but, alas, it is not to be. Bernard has attracted mass attention for other reasons, too, despite attempts to direct attention back to the ice and stones.

Sorry... some of these writers are actually, and hopelessly, in love.

Which brings us to Susan O. As in teammate and third Susan O'Connor (at left).

O'Connor has performed brilliantly at these Games, setting the table for Bernard to, basically, keep things simple and drive toward that simple hit or draw to the four-foot for the win.

She has bought into her skip's plans for a conservative approach to the Games, despite the jangling nerves required to win so many last-ditch, last-rock matches. She has done it all, over and over again, be it a perfect guard, a tricky freeze or a desperate double runback.

And O'Connor needs to produce again this morning to give her team a chance against the steamrolling Swiss, Mirjam Ott and Co.

The Swiss lost their opening three matches and then ticked off no less than six checkmarks in the win column. They are gathering strength at just the right time. They are confident. Mirjam might even be used to her new shoes, which had her fishtailing all over the ice on opening day.

The Swiss played poorly against Canada in the very first game, and it went down to the wire. Now the Swiss are playing well, and Ott herself is still, as of now, the only curling athlete in the world with two (silver) Olympic medals.

One last thought?

O'Connor should be up to the task. We think she will be. And its not just a week-plus of amazing play that makes us believe that. We also know that she – despite what the other media say – does herself have international curling experience.

That's right. Forget all you've heard about Team Bernard's handicap coming into these Games: once again, the mainstream media got it wrong. O'Connor competed for Canada, with a Maple Leaf on her back, at the very first World Mixed Doubles Championship in Vierumaki, Finland two years ago... where she and her teammate finished fifth.

This is round two for O'Connor. She's the curling titan on her foursome. And now she has to end Mirjam Ott's streak toward another silver (or gold) in Vancouver.

What a battle this will be. Game on!

[Photo copyright The Curling News by Anil Mungal]