Cheryl Bernard loses the gold

Canadian curler fails to make the clutch shot—twice

Cheryl Bernard has been curling for a very long time. Since she was a little girl, in fact. But not until Friday afternoon did she understand the true meaning of a steal.

The gold medal was hers. Everyone in the building sure thought so, clanging their cowbells and belting out: “We love you, Cheryl!” In the tenth end, when Bernard was still up by two, she was caught on camera smiling that uncontrollable smile, the one athletes get when they know they’re about to win, but are trying not to gloat.

And then she lost.

It didn’t happen in a blink of an eye. It actually took quite a few minutes for her gold to melt into silver, right there in front of thousands of witnesses. But even Anette Norberg, the Swedish skip who ended up with Bernard’s medal, had trouble putting into words exactly what she saw. “It just happened,” she said. “I don’t know how.”

From a strict curling perspective, here’s what happened. In that tenth end, Bernard’s rink was up 6-4 and needed the boss to complete a relatively simple takeout to seal the victory. But she couldn’t knock the second-last Swedish stone out of the house, allowing Norberg to hit for two and send the match into overtime. In the extra end, Bernard had the hammer in hand and two rival rocks in the circle. All she had to do was stick a standard double takeout. Her shot only took out one. 7-6 Sweden. Game over.

That’s the technical explanation. The painful truth is that Cheryl Bernard blew it—and that’s what makes the whole thing so hard to believe. “I had two chances to win that game,” she said afterwards, tears in her eyes. “I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Until now, her fans couldn’t have asked for anything more, either. After beating out the best curlers in the country for the chance to represent Canada at the Olympics, Bernard and her Calgary-based teammates (Susan O’Connor, Carolyn Darbyshire, Cori Bartel and alternate Kristie Moore) thrived on home ice against the rest of world. Backed by the rabid, raucous crowds that invaded the curling venue, the Bernard Bunch went 8-1 in the round robin, snuck by Switzerland in the semis, and set themselves up to be the first Canadian female curlers since the Sandra Schmirler squad to taste Olympic gold.

They tasted it. They just weren’t allowed to keep it. “It’s still sinking in,” O’Connor, Bernard’s lead, said right after the loss. “But as much as it hurts a little bit right now, I think maybe tomorrow or in a week or in a month or in a year we’re going to be really, really proud of this. It’s a pretty huge accomplishment and there are a million curlers in Canada that would kill to be in my spot right now.”

She’s right, of course. A silver medalist is hardly a loser, especially when that loss comes against the defending Olympic champions. But as commendable as second place is—and yes, let’s make it clear one more time: silvers are quite an accomplishment—Bernard was in control of that match. The 43-year-old was literally minutes away from standing on the top step of the podium, the big prize around her neck. A silver is the absolute last thing she wanted. “Obviously, I just didn’t throw the last one good enough,” she told reporters. “Eventually, this silver is going to feel great. Just right now, the gold was very close.”

As for what went wrong, Bernard said her final stone in the tenth end just didn’t curl quite enough, probably because it hit a patch of bad ice. The hammer in the eleventh? “It was a pretty routine double,” she said. “It missed by a millimeter. I couldn’t ask for an easier shot, but…”

Bernard, the good skip she is, was quick to accept blame. But her teammates would hear nothing of it. “Cheryl has been so stellar,” Bartel said. “Half an inch—that was the difference between winning and losing that game.” One reporter asked O’Connor what she told Bernard in the moments after their devastating loss. “I’m really glad you asked that,” she answered. “Cheryl is the reason we’re sitting up here now. She is the reason we were at the Olympics. There is nobody in the world that I would rather have throwing last rock for me.”

The people who paid big bucks to watch her compete were equally adoring; during the medal ceremony, they gave their silver medalists a golden ovation. “You’ve just lost a really big game and you still have 6,000 people cheering for you,” O’Connor said. “That’s more why I’m emotional than anything. It’s kind of like when you come off a loss and you do okay until your mom comes and gives you a hug. It’s like that—times a million.”

Bernard also praised the fans, both in the venue and in their living rooms. “Playing at home in front of Canada, we’ll never experience this again,” she said. “It was a chance of a lifetime.”

So, too, was that final rock.




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Cheryl Bernard loses the gold

  1. she was fantastic all week….team canada was never a favorite going into the olympics and they sure surprised everyone! they should be happy with the silver, for an underdog team with much less experience then the previous gold medal winning swedes they had an amazing game, and should hold their heads up high! The swedes are much more experienced, especially in the olympics! thank you team canada for giving us something to cheer about! for a team that was never supposed to make it this far, you should be very happy with the outcome! what a long road! congratulations! savor the moment, and forget about this nonsense of blowing the game!

  2. She did NOT "lose the Gold" ! She WON the Silver ! What negative reporting ! The whole article smells of her failing !
    I'm glad all the Silver and Bronze medals our athletes won were not reported as "lost Gold"
    Well Done Cheryl and team !

    • Read the article again:

      "She's right, of course. A silver medalist is hardly a loser, especially when that loss comes against the defending Olympic champions. "

      Yes, Cheryl is a hero.

    • SHE CHOKED!!! Don't let her represent Canada again!!!!

    • Well, yes, and she should get credit for winning silver…. but she had two very good chances to win the game and missed both of them, and even she admits that. It's frustrating to not win when you're capable of winning and things are so close.

    • If you ask the team, they'll tell you they lost the gold and not win the silver. I don't think it's negative journalism. Cheryl will be haunted by this match for a very long time.

    • BANG! ON! This was the Bernard rink's first international competition. She did damn good and had in fact been making those shots all week. They say you have to learn to lose before you learn to win. Watch out for next time.

  3. Cheryl is famous and I’ve never seen her in my life.
    But as an aussie I know good when I see one Cheryl just glows!

  4. You people are being too nice.

    Face it, she choked!

  5. Cheryl and Team Canada are a class act. They fought hard and have nothing to be ashamed of at all. It was just a tough break. The Olympics is just a reminder to me of how lucky we Americans are to have such a wonderful friend, neighbor, and ally as Canada.

  6. As a curler, you know it really hurts when, as Cheryl admitted, she had 2 chances to win and both slipped through her fingers. I don`t consider this negative reporting, it is the truth and Cheryl admitted such herself. However those who curl also know that sh*t happens, and she is not the first nor the last to have done so. This silver will feel a lot better to them after the initial raw pain goes away. As much as I felt disappointed (more like empathy as we who curl know how it feels) that she didn`t win the game, I am also very proud of her accomplishment to get to that game. She was tough all week and hung in there, and that`s what counts in the end. Hopefully they will come to that realization too sooner rather than later, and be able to feel very proud of their silver after all, as they should.

  7. C'mon Macleans! It's Sandra Schmirler, not Sarah Schmirler.

  8. no blame should be put on her she played good and her team did the same there should be no breaking the game down it was what it was and they did there best

  9. Cheryl Bernard the choke artist!!

    • So what have you done in your life that compares to Cheryl's winning of a silver medal in the Olympics, Jeff? When have you been in a situation of similar pressure and actually come thru in a winning fashion? Who are you to pass judgment on whether she choked or not? Isn't it possible that she missed two very challenging shots without choking?

      You must be quite a guy to be able to make such a comment, no doubt writing this insightful message from your gilded Manhattan penthouse and never having come in second in anything during your entire life.

    • Jeff is Jealous Jenn from the Peg.. who blames everyone cause she is a lousy curler.

  10. You have to feel for Cheryl Bernard and her team. Though, I don't agree that Bernard was in control of the match throughout. Sweden raced into a 4-2 lead at the halfway point, but a culmination of Canada upping their game and Sweden dropping theirs ever so slightly resulted in a spirited fightback only to fall short at the last hurdle, and then some. She had 2 relatively easy opportunities, by her standards, and failed to deliver the shots when it really mattered. Let's hope Martin doesn't fall into that same trap today.

    I don't however, feel for the 5000 or so Canadians in the crowd, who were as unsporting as they come. No generous applause for some magcal Swedish stones; shouting out on a number of occasions when the Swedish skip Norberg was delivering crucial stones, and showing a distinct lack of respect for the opposition & their own team when the majorityl suddenly disappeared from the building within the space of 3-4 minutes once the match was over.

  11. How very true. Canada shoud be proud of their team and their achievement but very ashamed of the utterly unsporting audience. These games are televised worldwide and that kind of behaviour doesn't excactly earn you any goodwill.
    Let's hope that the spectators can refrain from the "f u USA" shouting during the Icehockey final.

  12. Don't get me wrong :) I love the Canadian people; I work with a few back home here and they're the kindest, most humble people you're ever likely to meet, but just not the Curling crowd tonight, who were struggling to put aside disappointment for a few moments just to applaud their team's effort afterwards in at least reaching the gold medal match.

    That being said, bravo on delivering a fascinating Winter Olympic experience :)

    • Surely the bulk of the crowd at the women's final were not curlers, though? The British TV commentators had to point out several times that the poor behaviour was not typical of curling fans anywhere. As far as I can make out from the UK, the majority were hyped up on the wretched "own the podium" stuff which has put so much unnecessary additional stress on Canadian athletes doing their best at the top levels of sport. I've felt very sorry for other Canadian competitors who have, for whatever reason, failed to deliver gold – the pressure of expectation for them was clearly tremendous.

      Sporting patriotism is a normal thing. We send out our best gladiators to both provide mass entertainment (and oh, how the curlers did entertain us!) and prevent rivalries from overspilling into something worse. I'm very glad that Bernard's team has been congratulated and recognised at the highest level – and hope the other Canadian "failures" will now also be regarded in a more realistic light.

  13. There is something wrong with our women's curling selection process that a team, without a Scotties win and/or a World championship, could make it to the Olympics. This is the second Winter Olympics in a row that this has happened.

    After 2006, they fixed the system, but it's obviously still not resulting in the best Canadian women's curling team. If the Jennifer Jones team hadn't choked during the Olympics trials, Cheryl Bernard would not have had to do so on the big stage.

    I'd second Paul's comment above. The Swedish team, except for the seventh end, picked up their game when it counted. Why? Experience on the world stage.

    I don't think we should be sending a team to the Olympics that hasn't had at least one top-3 finish in the prior four years at the World Championships.

    • So Anon, you admit that curlers do choke regardless of their qualifications. If Jones choked in the trials she could just as well choke in the Olympics as Cheryl did and as many other have and will. Your theory doesn't make any sense.

    • I agree whole-heartedly with Anon001. The Olympic trials (for both men and women) should be by invitation only and you should only be allowed to compete if you have won a major tournament like the Scotties, the Brier, the Player's, the Worlds, etc. That way we know we are getting curlers who can handle the pressure of playing (and winning) in a major tournament.

  14. i am so grateful to have been able to be allowed to watch cheryl she is not only hot she is a true leader.well done…..respect always.

  15. What I thought was weird is they wore practically luge uniforms… compared to the other team..

    Dupont sisters on Denmark were the hottest… now THEY shoulda wore luge uniforms…..

  16. To me Schmirler will always be Sandra Shreeker

  17. Should NOT have knocked out that guard up front instead put her own guard up there too blocking most of the house on her 2nd last rock. thereby forcing the swedish skip to make a near impossible perfect raise on that bad ice. instead she made the swede's final shot an easy one which she would have to better or match. she made the wrong call. that ice was obviously either softer or cut up than during the week by the way stones curled and you saw it in the bronze medal game too.

  18. Cheryl's team curled amazingly for these two weeks!! It came down to two shots and yeah she missed them but by less than an inch!!! We should be proud of her and focusing on the silver medal and the teams dedication to the game! I'm loving these Olympics but sick of the concentration on winning!

    We get mad at our kids for being poor sports if they don't win and tell them "It's about playing the game fairly and doing your best". But then we write articles like the one above.

    It was a chance of a lifetime for them and they did great! Lets just try to forget about that final stone!!

  19. Stop talking about choking. You cannot sit on a couch and watch Olympic athletes on your flatscreen (who are being filmed and scrutinized by … millions of people sitting on couches and watching them on their flatscreens) and call someone a choker. Cheryl and her team wear a joy to watch these past two weeks from my vantagepoint here in Maryland. (And whoever mentioned the Dupont sisters — my least favorite two curlers to watch; too toothy and whiny. Give me Cheryl or the Russians any day of the week).

    I don't curl — though there is a very active club in my town — but watching these Olympics it seems agonizing at times. And hey, let's not forget Nordberg made some incredible shots in the clutch.

    I thought Cheryl was icy cold when she focused, but Nordberg has her beat in that department.

  20. The few games I followed had Canada always in tough and squeaking out a victory, often with the last rock in the last end. No?

    So I am not so sure that "Canada dominated" applies, even with the 8-1 (or whatever) record leading up to the final round.

    From what I saw, I saw close games throughout. Bring it down to the last throw, and you're gonna win some, and lose some. Coin came up heads a lot in the early games. Cheryl and her crew came up tails at the end.

    Still a tremendous accomplishment by a classy bunch of ladies.

  21. Hi. What's a half an inch.As Susan said, Cheryl got them there.She curled a wonderful tournament .Like all Canadians I am immenseley proud of her and the whole silver medal team.

  22. Nobody is trying to denigrate the performance of Cheryl Bernard, but it's frustrating when they had at least three chances to put the game away and blew all of them. That speaks to a psychological/mental inability to handle the pressure of high-level competition, and shows again why the current selection process is flawed. A team that has never won a major tournament (even a national tournament, never mind international competition) should not be able to fluke its way through to the Olympics by hitting a hot streak during the Olympic Trials. The Olympic Trials should be limited to teams that have won at least one major tournament (Scotties, Brier, Player's, Worlds, etc) and then we will know we are getting teams that are psychologically able to compete at an elite level.

  23. __
    Cheryl and her team are to be commended. They are a credit to Canada. Congratulations to all .

    Liz

  24. what a big time choke… she only had to make a routine shot to win the gold. What a disappointment. There's no excuse for that.. it's a very bitter silver medal win.

  25. Cheryl Bernard and her team did a fantastic job in the Olympics. It was a big loss but let's not forget the road that they've gone through to get to where they have been. It would've been nice for them to win the Gold, but silver isn't bad. Cheryl and her team made me tune into the sport of curling and have embraced it eversince. Congratulations ladies, you've done your country proud!

  26. Aside from curling, "Cheryl Bernard nude" was the most sought search term on Google this week — Cheryl has proven that a 43-year-old woman can be a sex symbol! The MILF-tastic hottie Bernard has brought a whole new crowd to the sport of curling, and that's quite an accomplishment. Can a Playboy spread be far behind?

    • I don't understand this. She's certainly not unattractive, but hello…Ashley Macivor is by far our hottest medalist.

      • And looks narcissistic as hell. Or did, four years ago.

  27. I think the word here is CHOKE. Oh well congratulations, but when oh when will a Calgarian win GOLD or the Stanley?

  28. Cheryl did not lose the Gold – She WON THE SILVER!! Just like Kevin Martin did and see where he is now!! Cheryl's exceptional skills as a skip and a curler and those of her team will place her in the Kevin Martin's teams position in another 4 years. They are too good not to win Gold.

    I started off as a non-believer but …she sure made a BELIEVER out of me!! What an unbelievable display of curling expertise and support. Cheryl was always there when her team was not. Unfortunately, when she was not, there is no one that can help her out. Such is the role of a skip. CONGRATULATIONS CHERYL & ALL!! See you there again and this time you will stand on the podium like Kevin and his team, wiht the GOLD!!

  29. The Canadian women curlers were wonderful. It was mesmerizing entertainment. They did us all proud. Absolutely wonderful, ladies. Thank you for the magic.
    And Cheryl…you are a stunningly beautiful, gorgeous woman. Poised, graceful, and utterly desirable. Joy and happiness to you and God bless. Your loveliness will remain in my memory forever.

  30. Cheryl and this personable crew of hard-workers just closed off the Players with a win..
    Nice $75000 cheque for their efforts.
    They also were named , by their Peers as the Team of the Year and Cheryl was voted MVP.
    Cheryl, Carolyn, Cori and Susan worked their Hearts out for a few years to Prepare for the Olympics and they almost caught the Gold. For me, it just was Norberg's Turn ( again). It happens sometimes..just hurts more when you invest so much in the goal. This Team gave us more than the Pride of an Olympic Silver they showed the world that some curlers are classy, take great pride in the appearance , skills and image to the Public and can handle the downs and ups with dignity.
    Thanks Team Bernard.. for a really enjoyable Women's curling season!!

  31. Fucking cheryl nut huggers
    SHE CHOKED, END OF STORY, DONT TRY AND MILK HER UP BY SAYING SHE DIDNT LOSE THE GOLD, SHE WON SILVER???? NO, REALITY CHECK LOSERS: SHE DIDNT WIN THE SILVER, SHE LOST THE GOLD

  32. Better luck next time. Keep on practicing and push it to the limit.

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