Sunday, February 24

A Heart This Big

I've been watching sports for a long time, and I've seen some amazing people do some amazing things. But I've never seen anything more amazing than what happened last week in Regina.

Saskatchewan's Michelle Englot was all ready for one magical week -- skipping the home team at a national championship, with a realistic chance to win. She was on the verge of playing for a title she wants very badly, one which has eluded her so far -- and doing it in front of friends and family.

Who could ask for more? The scene was set; the team was ready; the tournament of a lifetime was about to begin. And then the phone rang, and everything came crashing down. Michelle's father, Joe Englot, had passed away during the night.

What could she do? If the tournament were anywhere else, Michelle told the press, she would have gone home. But she was already home. There was no place to go. So the question was one of playing or not playing. And again there wasn't much of an option. Michelle would honour her commitments: to her team, to the event, and to her family. She would do it all -- or at least she would try.

Realistically, nobody could have done what Michelle Englot tried to do last week. Most of us can't even imagine trying to do something like that. Where would you find so much courage? Where would you get so much composure? Michelle only broke down in public once during the whole week -- when she was moved to tears by a standing ovation after a one-sided loss. Who wouldn't be moved by such a show of support?

One question follows another: Where would you get the energy? Where would you find the clarity? How could you compete at this level, against the top teams in the country, in the midst of a family tragedy? How could you handle the public spotlight and the private pain, all at the same time? How could you be gracious to strangers with microphones and cameras who would surround you after every game, asking questions about your family? I can't imagine doing any of that -- let alone doing all of it, not to mention winning some games along the way.

Much will be said of the playoffs, in which Sherry Middaugh missed a double and settled for bronze; in which Shannon Kleibrink missed a double and settled for silver. Much will be written about Jennifer Jones and her team, their run of eight straight wins, and their appearance at the World Championship. And rightly so, in my view. They've done some tremendous curling to get where they are now.

But let's not forget the example of grace and courage that we saw from the grieving Saskatchewan skip, who faced down much more than just granite and pebble and top-class opposition, and who left us with one more great mystery:

How can a woman this small have a heart this big?

Friday, February 22

"Now I Can Grieve"

Week ends in Heart-break

Murray McCormick, The Leader-Post
Published: Friday, February 22, 2008

It's over.

Michelle Englot's emotionally wrenching week as the hometown skip of Saskatchewan's team as the Canadian women's curling championship ended Thursday evening at the Brandt Centre with a 10-3 loss to Alberta's Shannon Kleibrink.

"In a sense, I'm glad that it is over," Englot said. "Now, I can grieve."

The defeat concluded seven days in the spotlight that no curler at the Scotties would have ever dreamed of having to endure. It started Feb. 15 when Joe Englot, Michelle's father, died of a heart attack at the family farm in Montmartre. He was 74.

Between then and last night, Englot played through her grief. She finished at 5-6 and won the support of a curling nation for the manner in which she dealt with totally unexpected adversity.

"It was the toughest week of my life but I made it through," Englot said before Thursday's late draw. "What is the song? 'What doesn't kill you can only make you stronger?'"

Englot, Darlene Kidd, Roberta Materi and Cindy Simmons were strong before the Scotties started. On Feb. 15, before Englot's world was shattered, they held a team meeting and were ready to toss rocks with some of the best teams in the country. It was Englot's sixth appearance at the Scotties and her first as a hometown skip. Englot's excitement about what lay ahead was noticeable.

"I really believe that had we played well and like we could, we could have won it," Englot said. "We know that we can beat the top teams. That was our goal before the beginning of the week."

The goal changed to surviving. Englot didn't miss an end while dealing with the death of her father. She only avoided one set of interviews Tuesday when she had to rush to Montmartre to attend the funeral service. Englot said she did consider stepping back and allowing alternate Lorie Kehler to fill in for her on Tuesday.

"We thought we had time to do everything and they had worked the funeral around my schedule," Englot said. "I was committed to playing the whole event."

She did all of the things that are required of a player at a national event. She had just one public breakdown -- Tuesday afternoon while being saluted with a standing ovation by the Brandt Centre crowd. Saskatchewan spent its badly needed bye attending the funeral. Englot returned to action Wednesday and lost both of her games to extend a losing streak to three games.

"I was emotionally drained (Wednesday)," Englot said. "Tuesday was a tough day. We didn't play well and it showed that I was drained. I did what I could and it wasn't enough."

Englot and Co. plan on remaining together for at least another year. After what it had been through this week, it would be shame to break up.

"They are some of my best friends and I can only believe this can make us closer as a team," Englot said.
© The Leader-Post (Regina) 2008

"It Just Wasn't Our Turn This Year"

No miracle for host team

The Moose Jaw Times Herald | February 22, 2008

Moose Jaw’s Cindy Simmons and her Team Saskatchewan teammates knew they were going to need a miracle if they were to reach the playoffs at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

And it would seem if any team had earned a break or two, the Michelle Englot foursome were that rink — but unfortunately, fate just didn’t have anything good in store for the hometown favourites.

Even though Englot and her Regina Tartan rink of third Darlene Kidd, second Roberta Materi and lead Simmons turned in their best performance of the week in an 8-1 six-end route of P.E.I.’s Suzanne Gaudet, an 8-2 win by Quebec’s Marie-France Larouche over New Brunswick’s Sylvie Robideau in the same draw eliminated Team Sask from competition.

At best, Saskatchewan could finish at 6-5, the lowest any of the top four teams could finish was 7-4.

“We went into today’s game and played well, and it was nice to win handily for once, but all the things we needed to have happen today for us to make the tiebreaker didn’t happen,” Simmons said shortly after watching her team’s final playoff chances slip away.

“Our hopes weren’t that high going into today knowing what the other teams were up against, and things just didn’t turn out.”

With little to play for, Team Sask went on to a 10-3 loss against Alberta’s Shannon Kleibrink, who finished atop the round robin standings at 10-1.

“The way we’re looking at it is that only one team wins it all, and it just wasn’t our turn this year,” Simmons said.

With their swing at the Scotties finished for another season, Simmons plans to throw her support behind another family member the rest of the way — and not the one you might think, at least for the moment.

“I’ll start cheering for Alberta after tonight, my cousin (second Bronwen Saunders) plays for them, we have a nice family connection there, and we all know (lead) Chelsey (Bell), so we’ll be rooting for them,” Simmons said.

Other than that, it’s time for some rest and relaxation the rest of what has been an exceptionally trying week.

“I think we’re all mentally and physically tired after everything that’s happend, so it’ll be nice to be able to relax a bit,” Simmons said. “It’s disappointing given what we’d hoped for going into the event but it’s okay too. It’s been a pretty amazing experience.”

A big part of that was the support of the Brandt Centre fans, who went out of their way to give the Englot foursome all the help they could get.

“I couldn’t ask for a better first Scott for myself,” Simmons said. “The games were amazing, the atmosphere, it’s indescribable what the atmosphere was like on the ice to have a chance to play in front of such a perfect crowd.

“We were laughing because it’s funny just being piped out on the ice and people are clapping and we haven’t even started playing yet... the tingles and the amazing feeling you get out there is incredible.”

And as for the drive to return to the Scotties?

“I can see why (husband and four-time defending Tankard champion) Pat (Simmons) wants to get back so badly every year, it’s an amazing experience and something you want to be a part of as often as you can,” Simmons said. “So I know we’ll do what we can to get back again next year.”

"Maybe Tomorrow We'll Figure Out What My Job Is"

Kehler challenged by her role

Murray McCormick, The Leader-Post
Published: Friday, February 22, 2008

Lorie Kehler had one of the best seats in the Brandt Centre at the Canadian women's curling championship.

She was the fifth with Saskatchewan's Michelle Englot, which provided Kehler with one of those elevated chairs behind the scoreboards at the home end. Kehler enjoyed the view and her role with Team Saskatchewan at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

"It has been fun and it was kind of like being in a fishbowl," Kehler said after Thursday's 8-1 victory over Prince Edward Island's Suzanne Gaudet at the Brandt Centre. "There has been a lot going on and it's a great event to be involved with. I thought that my Scotties years were over, so it was nice to have another."

Kehler had been involved in five other Canadian women's championship with Englot. Kehler played lead, second and third with Englot at those events, which Kehler said was a little easier than being one of the support team.

"You haven't any control over anything," Kehler said. "At least when you're out there you can take it out with you sweeping or just being there. It's a very different role."

Englot, Darlene Kidd, Roberta Materi and Cindy Simmons already had well-defined roles before winning the provincial championship. Anita Ford worked as the team's coach before the Scotties. The squad, which is well-organized, was looking for support and encouragement from its alternate.

"Anita had worked with them before, so she had a bit of role already," Kehler said. "As far as running and managing things, they have that covered. They really didn't need anyone."

Englot appreciated having Kehler as part of the team, especially during a challenging week.

"Lorie and I are very close and we always have been," said Englot, who was 5-5 heading into Thursday's final draw against Alberta's Shannon Kleibrink. "We couldn't have picked a better person to be our fifth in this situation."

Kehler filled the role as a cheerleader and as a shoulder to lean on when the emotions grew to be too much for the members of the Englot team. Kehler also filed a daily dairy to that provided insights into Saskatchewan's team away from the pressure of the Scotties.

"Anita and I tried to scout rocks and see what everybody else was throwing," Kehler said. "Michelle pretty well has her mind made up and there isn't a lot of input from me. I'm just a big supporter."

Kehler said reaching the 5-5 mark was huge. It improved their performance in Sudbury in 2001 by one win.

"You always want to come back with a winning record," Kehler said. "I remember that 4-7 was really tough coming home. You just feel that you let everybody down. You want to go out on a winning note."
© The Leader-Post (Regina) 2008

It's always interesting to see what a fifth thinks about the job. Here's Lorie Kehler herself, writing on the same subject, just a few days ago:
Speaking of my job, that has been a topic of debate.

What is my job? Certainly not remembering what rocks/sheets we have been on, or are heading to. Without Anita’s magic book I would be lost.

Playing, not my job unless an emergency, this is the girls' show.

Slight emergency yesterday when I left my glasses at home, Roberta was quite concerned that it would cut into my crowd watching. Now that is my job, but as Joan Stricker can attest to, I could do that when even when I was curling.

I told Roberta not to worry as my glasses were being hand delivered by my hubby and in the meantime, I could borrow coaches’ binoculars, surely she could do without them for an end or two.

How important can determining how the other teams are matching rocks and throwing rock on certain sheets anyway, which by the way is not my job, Anita can pick out what rock anyone on any sheet is throwing and I am still focussing the darn binoculars. Maybe I just needed the pressure of needing them for crowd watching.

Then last night, I found a smelly, worn out, old pair of mitts that I thought Bert had had since the 2001 Scott in Sudbury, and I thought finally I can show my worth to Bert. But sadly, I was wrong. Sorry to whomever’s smelly, worn out, old pair of mitts I stole, check the yellow rock dressing room.

Maybe tomorrow we’ll figure out what my job is.

Thursday, February 21

Thursday: Last Draws

In the afternoon draw, I'll be cheering for Canada vs Manitoba, Ontario vs Nova Scotia, New Brunswick vs Quebec, and Saskatchewan vs. PEI. If all my teams win, Saskatchewan will still be in the hunt for a tie-breaker.

UPDATE: Saskatchewan and Ontario remembered to win, but Quebec and Manitoba forgot to lose. So tonight's game is about pride, not playoffs.

SECOND UPDATE: The evening game against Alberta started tough and just got tougher; it ended early, and rightly so.

The fans gave the team another standing ovation as they left the ice, but unlike Tuesday afternoon, it didn't seem to surprise or overwhelm anybody. Michelle, Darlene, Roberta and Cindy smiled and waved and kept moving -- right out the door, with the most admirable 5-6 record ever compiled.

A Smile

Bryan Schlosser caught Michelle smiling. Photo courtesy Regina Leader-Post

"We're Here To Curl"

Englot team turns focus to curling

Murray McCormick, Saskatchewan News Network; Regina Leader-Post
Published: Thursday, February 21, 2008

REGINA -- Michelle Englot has attempted to take control of the off-ice distractions at the Canadian women's curling championship.

Englot returned to action Wednesday at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts after attending a funeral service for her father, Joe Englot, in Montmartre on Tuesday. She was beaten 7-5 by Heather Strong of Newfoundland-Labrador on Wednesday and proclaimed to the media that was she was fine.

"The funeral went fine and we're here to curl," Englot said after falling to 4-4.

Englot and her teammates -- Darlene Kidd, Roberta Materi and Cindy Simmons -- have formed a unified front in dealing with the media's questions regarding the squad's off-ice emotions.

"Our team motto is, 'The funeral is done, we've said our good-byes and we're going to focus on curling,'" said Simmons. "We have to keep our heads into the game and not worry about the media."

Joe Englot, 74, died Friday at the family farm in Montmartre after suffering a heart attack. Englot has played through her grief and was able to keep her emotions in check. That was until after Tuesday's 8-6 loss to Nova Scotia's Mary-Anne Arsenault. The Brandt Centre crowd saluted Englot with a standing ovation, which led to the skip breaking down.

"It was just getting caught up in the moment," Englot said. "We knew that we had some tough things to deal with that day and we've dealt with them. We've decided to concentrate on curling and that's all that we're thinking about."

Englot fell behind 6-2 to Newfoundland-Labrador after five ends after giving up steals of one in the fourth and fifth ends and a steal of two in the sixth. She closed the gap to 6-5 in the eighth but that was as close as she could get.

"We were chasing them the whole first half of the game," Englot said. "We turned it around and finally had them chasing us. It was too little, too late."
© The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) 2008

Sask Playoff Hopes Are Slim

Sask.'s playoff hopes need help

Englot loses twice on Wednesday to see record fall to 4-5

Murray McCormick, Saskatchewan News Network; Regina Leader-Post
Published: Thursday, February 21, 2008

REGINA -- Michelle Englot, who has dealt with more adversity off the ice than any skip should have to endure, is in dire straits at the Canadian women's curling championship.

Englot lost two games on Wednesday at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts and needs plenty of help to make even a tiebreaker. Englot (4-5) is tied with Team Canada and B.C. for seventh heading into the final day of round-robin play.

"We need help -- big help," Englot proclaimed after losing 7-5 to Manitoba's Jennifer Jones at the Brandt Centre. "Five losses are probably too much but I haven't looked at who plays who and whatever to see if 6-5 would make it -- not that it matters at this point.

"It's a matter of pride in trying to get a better record. We'll come out and play hard (today)."

Englot and her Tartan crew of Darlene Kidd, Roberta Materi and Cindy Simmons opened play Wednesday in control of their fate. A couple of wins may have moved Saskatchewan into the playoff picture with a bit of cushion. Instead, Englot was beaten 7-5 by Heather Strong of Newfoundland-Labrador and then lost to Jones in the evening draw.

The evening loss may prove to be critical because both teams entered the game at 4-4. Teams with 6-5 records have made tiebreakers five times since the Page Playoffs were instituted in 1995. Those with 5-6 marks have never advanced.

"We were confident with four losses going into the game that we would be able to pull off a tiebreaker," Kidd said. "After this one, there has to be a lot of icing on the cake if we're to make playoffs."

Englot was back on the ice Wednesday after having two draws off. She left immediately after Tuesday's 8-4 loss to Nova Scotia's Mary-Anne Arsenault to attend her father's funeral in Montmartre. Joe Englot, 74, died Friday at the family home in Montmartre of a heart attack.

Englot stated the team was finished dealing with questions about her father's death and wanted to concentrate on curling. She was focused Wednesday but couldn't seem to recapture the momentum that led to a four-game winning streak which followed losses in her opening two games.

"It's just us," Kidd said. "The ice has been the same every game. The ice is a little bit quicker in the middle ends but it's us not doing what we should be doing."

Englot, who has lost three straight, hasn't had time to do any scoreboard watching.

"I've been glancing at the standings but there have been a lot of other things going on," said Englot, who was 4-7 in 2001 at her last Scotties in Sudbury. "It's hard to say what is going to happen but typically you never know what happens until the last game."

The seventh and eighth ends were the keys in the evening matchup. Jones was able to draw for three in the seventh to grab a 5-4 lead. In the eighth, Englot was heavy on both of her draws. The misses allowed Jones to steal two and assume control.

"We've been slipping deep all week and not controlling the front of the rings," Englot said. "That makes a big difference."

Englot has a bye this morning. She returns at 2 p.m. to play Prince Edward Island's Suzanne Gaudet (3-6) and opposes Alberta's Shannon Kleibrink (8-1) at 7 p.m. Englot's fate could be decided before she throws her first rock.

"That could be but we still want to play hard and have a record over .500," Englot said.
© The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) 2008

Wednesday, February 20

Saskatchewan Skip Inspires Crowd At Scotties

Team Saskatchewan lost both their games Wednesday. Their record stands at 4-5 and they will need a miracle or three to reach the playoffs. But the results hardly matter anymore. Their display of courage and class has been overwhelming, and humbling.

Saskatchewan Skip Inspires Crowd At Scotties

By Nigel Maxwell | News Talk 980
Updated February 20, 2008 - 3:47pm

An emotional day Wednesday for the Team Saskatchewan Skip at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

Less than 24 hours after her father's funeral, Michelle Englot was back on the ice with her team for their game against Newfoundland/ Labrador. The inspired crowd showed their appreciation and respect by giving the team a huge ovation during the introduction of the game.

Watching from the stands was Englot's mom Norma. Norma says she is very proud of her daughter, and knows like the rest of the family her daughter will find the strength to play.

Englot's son Brett was also in the stands. Before the game Brett said he gave his mom a hug and told her to keep battling; and to use the crowd to stay strong.

Not The Streak They Had In Mind

Not the streak Englot likely wants

Murray McCormick, Leader-Post
Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Saskatchewan's Michelle Englot is on another streak at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

Englot lost her second straight game on Wednesday, this time dropping a 7-5 decision to Heather Strong of Newfoundland-Labrador. Englot opened the Scotties with two losses, then rattled off four straight wins before leaving Tuesday to attend her father's funeral in Montmartre. She had a bye Tuesday night and Wednesday morning before returning to action on Wedneday.

Englot fell to 4-4 and likely needs help to make the playoffs. She's to play Manitoba's Jennifer Jones in tonight's draw. She concludes the round-robin portion of the Scotties on Thursday with games against Prince Edward Island's Suzanne Gaudet and Alberta's Shannon Kleibrink.

Englot struggled on Wednesday, facing a number of rocks in the house. Her team did play well, which gives her something to build on tonight.
© Leader-Post 2008

"I Learned To Play With My Dad"

Saskatchewan's Englot battles grief at Canadian women's curling championship

REGINA - Michelle Englot is fighting the fatigue that accompanies grief at the Canadian women's curling championship, and her battle is not over yet.

After playing two games Tuesday at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the Saskatchewan skip and her teammates were heading immediately to Englot's hometown of Montmartre, 90 kilometres east of Regina, for her father's funeral. Joel Englot, 74, died of a heart attack the day before the Scotties Tournament of Hearts opened.

It wasn't surprising that Saskatchewan opened the tournament 0-2 after such a shock, but the Regina team recovered to win their fourth game in a row Tuesday morning - a 6-5 decision against the Territories - before falling 8-4 to Nova Scotia.

At 4-3, the host team was still in contention for one of four playoff berths at the conclusion of the round robin Thursday.

But Ontario's Sherry Middaugh and Alberta's Shannon Kleibrink were tied atop the 12-team field at 6-1 after Tuesday's play.

Englot, third Darlene Kidd, second Roberta Materi and lead Cindy Simmons were able to regain their emotional balance during the tournament, but were preparing for a funeral that could sap their energy again.

"We've been taking every opportunity to rest and sort of going on a little bit of adrenalin because I haven't been sleeping that great, but I've been napping when possible and doing what I can to stay emotionally strong," Englot said.

Added Simmons: "Tonight's going to be tough, today is going to be tough and tomorrow is going to be tough, but we've got some strategies in place and hopefully we can combat the fatigue. It's going to be draining. We're lucky we don't play until tomorrow afternoon."

Quebec's Marie-France Larouche, Nova Scotia's Mary-Anne Arsenault and Heather Strong of Newfoundland and Labrador were tied at 5-2.

Defending champion Kelly Scott won twice to get to 3-4, while Manitoba's Jennifer Jones lost a pair to drop into a tie with Scott.

"Not a good day," Jones said. "We know we have to win and hope and if we can win the rest of our games, hopefully that will give us a shot at the playoffs."

Four losses is usually the maximum a team can have and still get into Friday's Page playoff. More than that, and a team needs others to lose to get into a tiebreaker.

Middaugh finished off P.E.I.'s Suzanne Gaudet in seven ends for a 10-2 win after beating B.C.'s Allison MacInnes 7-6 in the morning.

"I think we've sent a bit of a statement, more to ourselves than anyone else, that we can do it and we're curling well," Middaugh said.

It was a pivotal day for Larouche as her Quebec foursome defeated pre-tournament favourites Manitoba 10-8 and Alberta 8-4.

"When we won provincials we saw (the schedule) and we thought that this would be a big day for us," Larouche said. "Now, it's behind us and we look forward.

"I have my draw weight and that's what I didn't have the other days. Now I'm more confident in myself and I think it's good for my team."

Kleibrink rebounded from the loss to Quebec with a 10-3 win over Manitoba.

"You don't want more than one loss in a row. That's kind of our theory now," Kleibrink said. "As long as don't have back-to-backs we should be somewhere in the playoffs."

Nova Scotia had to grind out a 9-8 win over Kerry Galusha of the Territories after their win over Saskatchewan.

"Love it," Arsenault said. "We're in the thick of things. The bodies are getting a little sore, but we're good at mentally blocking it."

Newfoundland recovered from a loss to Scott with a 9-8 victory in an extra end over New Brunswick's Sylvie Robichaud.

After opening the tournament 1-4, Scott gained some momentum with wins over Newfoundland and New Brunswick.

"We're back on track," Scott said. "We're kind of in control of our own destiny at this point. We had two good wins today and feel good stepping on the ice tomorrow."

Curling has helped Englot to take her mind off her grief, at least while she is on the ice.

"We've really concentrated on, once we're on the ice, that's what we're dealing with at that point and accepting that it's OK to go out there and play like we normally can," said Englot. "We can deal with the off-ice stuff once we're done our three hours on the ice and that has worked well for us."

Englot, 44, works in communications for SaskTel and has two teenage sons. She is skipping Saskatchewan at nationals for the sixth time in her career.

Englot made the playoffs in her first two appearances in 1988 and 1989.

She says her father was influential in her development in curling.

"I learned to play with my dad in club curling out in Montmartre," Englot said. "He used to let me skip and he was very hard on me, but I think that's why I am where I am today."

"Michelle Has Been Incredible"

Saskatchewan skip soldiering on

By JIM BENDER -- Sun Media
February 20, 2008

REGINA -- Not a soul would have blamed Michelle Englot if she [had] passed on playing in this year's Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

Or even the first day or two.

After all, the Saskatchewan skip learned her father, Joe, had died mere hours before she was slated to practise at the Brandt Centre on Friday. But she still made it to practice and she still played because, as she said, her dad would have wanted it that way.

After losing her first two games here, Englot won four straight before Nova Scotia's Mary-Anne Arsenault dropped her foursome 8-4 yesterday afternoon.

After the loss, Englot high-tailed it to Montmartre, which is within an hour's drive of Regina, because the funeral was scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. Saskatchewan had a bye on the Hearts draw last night when the rest of the curlers were wearing green ribbons in tribute to Joe Englot.

"We've constantly looked at re-grouping," Englot, 44, said before the loss to Nova Scotia (she was unavailable afterward). "I didn't think that we were far off the first couple of games so, it wasn't a big stretch. We just had to deal with a lot of emotions and I think we've gotten through that and we're finally playing better."

But it hasn't been easy.

"I've been taking every opportunity to rest," said Englot, tears welled in her eyes. "I've been going on a little bit of adrenaline because I haven't been sleeping that great. But I have been napping when possible and doing what I can to stay emotionally strong."

Despite the loss to Nova Scotia, Englot is still in the thick of things at 4-3.

"It's like you pull together as a family and we just know how to bring out the best in each other," said Saskatchewan lead Cindy Simmons. "We support each other. Michelle has been incredible. To be able to deal with what she has to do, she has been fantastic. The support of the crowd has been enormous to our team and her family as well.

"(Today's) game (against Newfoundland) is going to be tough but we have a strategy worked out to deal with it."

Englot was reduced to tears when the crowd gave her a standing ovation after the loss to Nova Scotia and she crumpled into the arms of Simmons, who was also crying uncontrollably.

"I don't know if I could do what she's doing," sympathized Arsenault. "I don't think I'd have the guts and courage to do it."

Meanwhile, Ontario's Sherry Middaugh pasted P.E.I.'s Suzanne Gaudet 10-2 to move into a first-place tie with Alberta's Shannon Kleibrink at 6-1. Kleibrink clobbered Manitoba's Jennifer Jones 10-3, then shocked reporters by saying she would prefer to play in the Page playoff 3-4 game over the 1-2 match because she doesn't like to sit.

"I think we sent a statement to ourselves because (third) Kirsten (Wall) and I haven't been here for four years," said Middaugh, who plays Alberta this afternoon. "And (second) Kim (Moore) hasn't been here since 1997. And it's the first time for (lead) Andra (Harmark). We're curling really well."

Quebec's Marie-France Larouche won both her games to move into a tie for third with Nova Scotia and Newfoundland at 5-2. Team Canada's Kelly Scott won both games yesterday to improve to 3-4 and a seventh-place tie with Manitoba and B.C.