March 4, 2009
Jones: 'It never gets old'Comeback queens have rarely-seen determination
By JIM BENDER
They have become the Jason of the Canadian women's curling world.
But these Manitoba monsters are masked with comely smiles that belie a gritty determination seldom seen on the curling sheets.
After watching Jennifer Jones repeatedly rise from the dead to kill again, their opponents must be wondering what kind of wooden stake they need to keep her team in the curling coffin.
Jones, of course, made a miraculous comeback to win the 2008 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, then continued those comebacks as her squad won the women's world championship. Last week in Victoria, B.C., Jones again rose from near-death, leaving five worthy teams in her wake as her squad won its second straight Canadian crown -- and third since 2005.
"I really can't believe it's been three times for our team and the success we've had since 2005," Jones said after returning late Monday night. "We've won three Canadian championships and lost a final and lost a semi, and (third Cathy Overton-Clapham's) now won four and that's remarkable.
"We've done it before and it never gets old. You think the last time will be your last and then we do it again. When you've got that Maple Leaf on your back ... it's completely the most glorifying experience you've ever had."
Never mind the women's world championship in Gangneung, Korea later this month, the Jones juggernaut has to be intimidating to any other Canuck squad hoping to compete for an Olympic berth at the 2009 Canadian Curling Trials in Edmonton.
"I know it's going to take a great shot to beat us in a big game because I know our team's going to be there and we're going to play very well in a big game, and that's a great feeling," Jones warned. "We're going to make a team make a good one to beat us."
That is because her team becomes to doggedly determined whenever it sniffs a championship.
"I don't know what it is but when the playoffs come, our team just seems to change where we turn it up a notch and we just really want it," Jones said.
"We persevere no matter what the situation is and we never ever think we're out until the last rock is thrown," said lead Dawn Askin. "That's what great teams do."
Of course, it helps to have a skip who can make any shot in the book with the heat on.
"Jen just throws unbelievable shots in pressure situations and I can't think of any other skip I'd rather have on my team," said Askin, who won her second straight national title in her second year with the team.
"Obviously, last year ended on a much more emotional note because of the way the game ended. But this one was just as good. It's great and I can't believe we're back-to-back champions."
Overton-Clapham won her first Canadian title at third for Connie Laliberte in 1995 and her fourth is a Manitoba record.
"I wasn't really thinking about it but I guess four is pretty unbelievable," she said. "All the hard work is really paying off."
Second Jill Officer was still savouring her third title.
"It's taking a little more time to sink in because it's a little bit different," she said. "It's still really exciting but it wasn't as dramatic a finish as the last two times that we won. I don't know if that makes a difference but it still feels wonderful."