By Tim Switzer, Canwest News Service

REGINA – All in all, it wasn’t a bad start to the curling season for Regina’s Amber Holland.

Holland and her teammates – third Kim Schneider, second Tammy Schneider and lead Heather Kalenchuk – went 8-0 during the Schmirler Charity Curling Classic at the Callie Curling Club, finishing off Monday with a 6-3 win over Kelly Scott of Kelowna, B.C., in the final.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Holland. “We’ve never gone undefeated in any event we’ve played in the four years we’ve been together so it was great to get on a roll, stay on a roll and finish off with the win.”

After going 5-0 in the round robin, Holland’s team beat Winnipeg’s Janet Harvey 5-3 in a quarter-final Monday and then bested Regina’s Chantelle Eberle by the same score in the semifinal round.

“You’d like to think all the off-season training you do contributes,” Holland said with a laugh. “I think we were just really focused on playing the ice the way it was and (taking) what it gave us. We didn’t want to make anything too difficult. We weren’t going with any difficult game plan. We just stayed with something simple because we knew it was our first ‘spiel. We wanted some success and be on the ice.”

That simple approach may be the one to take as Holland and Co. prepare for the rest of the season, including the Olympic pre-trials Nov. 10-14 in Prince George, B.C.

Holland’s team is one of 12 women’s squads taking part in the pre-trials to try and win one of four remaining spots in the Olympic trials in Edmonton beginning on Dec. 6. Eight men’s and eight women’s teams qualify for the full trials with the winners representing Canada at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver.

“It’s hard to believe it’s coming so fast, especially for our team because we qualified a year and a half ago for that (pre-trials) event,” said Holland. “It seemed like it was a long ways away and now it’s like, `Oh, it’s here.’ It’s going to be good though.”

A win at the Schmirler was just another step down that road.

“It’s good to be in the finals, playing teams like Kelly, playing all those teams that we’re going to play on another weekend and at the pre-trials (or) the trials,” said Holland. “The more you can do that, the more you learn and the better you’re going to be.”

Monday’s final started off with the teams forcing one another to take singles in the first two ends before Holland broke things open with three in the third.

Scott looked to be in good shape early in the end with two rocks frozen but a few key takeouts, a Scott jam and an angled takeout by Holland on her last stone gave the Saskatchewan rink control.

Holland stole one in the fourth before the teams traded singles again in the fifth and sixth. From there, Holland just had to run Scott’s team out of rocks over the last two ends.

It was exactly the type of game Holland hopes to see from her team over the rest of the schedule as it gets ready for the pre-trials.

“We need consistency,” said Holland. “Whatever game it is we’re bringing to the ice, we just have to do it well and do it the same and be consistent. No one else can throw our rocks for us, only we can.”

Holland’s team took home $12,000 for the win while Scott won $8,000. Eberle and Tracy Streifel (Saskatoon) won $5,000 apiece for reaching the semifinals, while quarter-finalists Harvey, Kristy Jenion (Winnipeg), Erika Brown (Madison, Wis.) and Heather Rankin (Calgary) each received $3,500.


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