Scotland send-off

PAUL TURENNE -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

About 150 people packed the third-floor lounge at the St. Vital Curling Club last night to bid good luck to the five Manitoba women who will leave for Scotland this afternoon to compete for Canada at the World Women's Curling Championship.

Jennifer Jones, Cathy Overton-Clapham, Jill Officer, Cathy Gauthier and Trisha Eck, all wearing red blazers and corsages, were greeted with rousing applause as they entered the lounge at their home rink led by a piper last night.

The women were then presented gifts from Premier Gary Doer, St. Vital MLA Nancy Allan and Manitoba Curling Association president Lorne Hamblin before mingling with the extremely supportive crowd.

Jones, the team's skip, said the support the province has shown them since their national championship win two weeks ago has been remarkable.

"It's been surreal, just really amazing. It's made everything so much more special to know that so many people care," she said.

Although last night's crowd included political and curling dignitaries, members of the general public also came out to support the team.

"I just think (Jones) is a great curler. Them being from Manitoba I just wanted to come out and support them. I want to see them win gold in Scotland," said Kyle Surma, who curls regularly at the Fort Garry Curling Club.

Fifth Trisha Eck said the reception the women have received has been overwhelming.

"From dropping the puck at the Moose game to being in the legislative dining room, it's pretty special," she said.

But all that partying has taken its toll on the athletes, said Randy Anderson, general manager of the Canadian Sport Centre.

The CSC has been paying for everything from sports psychologists to massages for the Jones rink, so that they'll be physically and mentally prepared for the upcoming worlds.

"Ultimately our objective is to put more Manitobans on the Olympic podium and the world podium," said Anderson.

To reach that goal, the team will have to get through tough rinks like the Swedes, Norwegians and Americans at the world championship, which start this weekend in Paisley, Scotland.

"We think there are probably five or six teams that have been there before or close to being there before," said coach Larry Jones, who is Jennifer's dad.

"I think we've got a great chance," he said. "We can play well, but Lady Luck's got to ride on your shoulder every once in a while."

Team Canada, which leaves for Scotland today at 1:30 p.m., opens the tournament this Saturday against Mirjam Ott's rink from Switzerland.


Videos

Photos