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Originally published February 22, 2010 at 9:00 PM | Page modified February 23, 2010 at 2:39 PM

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Jerry Brewer

Canadian mother-to-be curling for two at Olympics

Kristie Moore of Canada, believed to be only the third Winter Olympian to compete while pregnant, wobbles a little and has trouble catching her breath. But she's happy to be competing in Vancouver.

Seattle Times staff columnist

VANCOUVER, B.C. — You could call Kristie Moore a human victory cigar, but be careful.

She's pregnant.

Smoke would be bad for the baby.

She's very pregnant, in fact, almost six months so. But she's also an Olympian, the most unlikely at these Winter Games, and Monday provided an extraordinary moment for Moore.

She played, baby bump and all. An alternate on the Canada women's curling team, Moore was told to get out there just before the second-to-last end of a blowout match. She was shocked.

"I wasn't expecting to go in," said Moore, the fifth member of a team that only needs four to play. "I didn't stretch or anything. So I was a little unprepared."

It looked that way in the beginning. She squatted, left leg in front of her baby bump, right leg back, assuming that funny-looking curling position and slid, rock in hand. She wobbled during the glide of her delivery, but it didn't matter. The curling-crazy Canadian crowd roared. The momma-to-be had made a subtle point that pregnancy doesn't have to be a limitation or a suspension of a woman's dreams.

Especially in curling.

"I know it's a big deal to be an Olympian and pregnant, but for a curler, it's not a big deal," Canadian teammate Susan O'Connor said.

"I curled when I was eight months pregnant in a world championships," said Anette Norberg, the skip of the Swedish team that lost a 6-2 decision.

It would be harder for Moore if she were, say, Lindsey Vonn. Moore's story will fuel cynics who consider curling a sport for non-athletes, but give this woman credit. She is only the third known pregnant competitor in Olympics history. Four years ago, Diana Sartor of Germany was nine weeks pregnant when she finished fourth in the skeleton. In 1920, Swedish figure skater Magda Julin was in her first trimester when she won a gold medal.

So that makes Moore the most pregnant Olympian ever. The 30-year-old didn't make Team Canada last year and decided to start a family with her fiancé, Shane Wray. She got pregnant, and a few weeks later, she received a call from the curling team.

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"We'd like to offer you a spot on the team as an alternate," the caller said.

"I'm pregnant," she said. "Is that going to be a problem?"

To her surprise, there were no reservations.

"You're pregnant," teammate Caroline Darbyshire said. "You're not dead."

Sometimes, the Canadian curlers jokingly rub Moore's tummy for luck. They joke that Moore, who doesn't know the sex of her baby, must name her child after something to do with curling, like Rock or Skip or Hammer.

My suggestion would be to combine a quirky old hairstyle with the sport and name the child Jheri Curling. But, mercifully, Moore isn't taking any outside offers.

Asked if there's anything difference about playing the sport with a baby on the way, Moore explained only little things.

"When I sit in the hack to clean my rock, I have to squat a little differently," she said. "Not so ladylike anymore. But other than that, once I go to throw the stone, it's pretty much the same.

"With sweeping, my heart rate is naturally up because I'm pregnant, so it takes a little bit longer to catch my breath than it did before. But I've curled my entire life, so it's pretty much about me continuing to do what got me here."

Moore is from Grand Prairie, Alberta. She and three other business partners own a restaurant/lounge called Maddhatters Liquid Lounge and Crazy Cuizine.

"If you're ever in Grand Prairie, we have the best food in town," she swears.

Canada, a favorite to win gold on its home soil, advanced to the medal round Monday. One more victory, and it's guaranteed a medal. Two more, and Moore will become the first pregnant gold medalist in 90 years.

"It's a little bit overwhelming," she says, grinning, "but it's fun, too."

She can't fathom having an Olympic medal, but now that you ask, she's a little greedy.

"Shouldn't I get two?" she joked.

Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or jbrewer@seattletimes.com, Twitter: @Jerry_Brewer

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Jerry Brewer offers a unique perspective on the world of sports.
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