Hanna's got hot hand

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:21 AM ET

For most teams, the big prize at this week's Canada Cup East cashspiel will be a berth at next winter's Canadian Olympic Trials. Ottawa's Jenn Hanna is taking a different approach.

The 24-year-old skip hopes her team will continue to play well this week -- as it has on the Ontario women's tour this season -- to build momentum heading into next month's regional playdowns for the Scott provincial championship.

As they say, the rest would be gravy.

"We've had such a good year and we're in a position to possibly grab a Trials spot. It actually seems a little bit surreal to me," said Hanna prior to a pre-tournament practice last night.

The Canada Cup East, featuring some of the top teams in Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces, begins this afternoon with draws at the Ottawa and Rideau clubs.

Hanna got a bye in the first round and won't begin until tomorrow evening.

Last year, Hanna advanced to the provincials through the last-gasp Challenge Round and went on a tear at the Ontario Scotts, winning the round-robin before losing in a semi-final.

She and teammates Dawn Askin and younger sister Stephanie Hanna have recruited Pascale Letendre as their new third, replacing Joelle Sabourin, who stepped back due to work commitments.

The new arrangement has worked out well, with the squad qualifying for the money round in four of five events, earning a crisp $11,200 along the way, ranking second to veteran Sherry Middaugh.

The money total includes a $1,500 victory during last month's Rideau Skins game.

"My main concern was to put together a team that was young and have the ability to put some years together to work toward something more long term," said Hanna.

Like the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, for example.

"We didn't go into this year thinking we had to qualify for Canada Cup East," she said. "We thought it would be great if we won some money and if it happened, then that would be great.

"But our focus has mainly been towards the provincials and possibly making it to the Scotts."

Hanna made a first step toward the nationals last weekend, advancing through the zone playdowns.

Next up is the regional tournament early next month in Belleville, a qualifier for the Scott provincials Jan. 24-30 at the Rideau.

The Canada Cup East features 64 teams (32 men's and 32 women's), with the winners on both sides getting a share of a $98,000 purse and a berth at next winter's Olympic trials in Halifax.

Already qualified for the Trials are Randy Ferbey (Alberta), Mark Dacey (Nova Scotia), Ottawa-native John Morris (Alberta), Jay Peachey (B.C.) and Jeff Stoughton (Manitoba).

Sherry Middaugh (Ontario), Colleen Jones (Nova Scotia), Sherry Anderson (Saskatchewan), Marie-France Larouche (Quebec) and Shannon Kleibrink (Alberta) have qualified for the women's competition.

The Canada Cup East, a triple-knockout tournament, continues through the week and ends on Sunday with the finals at the Rideau.

Winning teams share $12,000 each.

ROCKIN' THE HOUSE

Facts about the Canada Cup East, which begins today at the Ottawa and Rideau CC:

- At stake: Winners qualify for the Olympic trials next year in Halifax. Top four go to the Strauss Canada Cup, March 15-25 in Kamloops, B.C.

- Cashing in: $98,000 purse, split evenly among men and women. Winning teams share $12,000.

- Finals: Sunday, 6:30 p.m., at the Rideau CC.

barre.campbell@ott.sunpub.com


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