Winning mind game

TED WYMAN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 11:02 AM ET

PAISLEY, Scotland -- Even before Jennifer Jones made the shot of a lifetime to win the Canadian women's curling championship, she was in her happy place. Jones and her Winnipeg teammates have had great success on the ice this season, and the skip attributes much of it to a positive mental state.

IMPECCABLE

That mindset was developed with the help of famed Winnipeg sports psychologist Dr. Cal Botterill, whose reputation working with everyone from NHL players to Olympic champions is impeccable.

"I think he's probably the best in Canada, if not the world," said Jones, who proved how serious she was about winning when she enlisted Botterill's services at the start of this season.

"So we're very, very lucky that he's in Winnipeg, and he's just been great for us."

Jones and teammates Cathy Overton-Clapham, Jill Officer and Cathy Gauthier have been meeting individually and as a group with the sports psychologist, a plan of action that has had a great effect on other Canadian champions, including six-time winner Colleen Jones.

"Colleen Jones, obviously (sports psychologist) Ken Bagnell is their main coach," Jones said. "I think it's a trend that is coming, and it's something you are going to see a lot more of in the future. Curling has Olympic status, and that's what athletes in most other sports do.

"It makes us mentally tough, and it gives us a different perspective on things.

"So far, so good. We've had a great year."

That might be a bit of an understatement, especially coming from the skip of Team Canada at the world women's curling championship.

The Jones foursome, which was formed at around this time last year, has plenty of great things ahead of it.

Besides taking a crack at the world women's title, the team is also bound for the Olympic curling trials next December and will return to the Scott as Team Canada in 2006.

And for winning the Scott in 2005 they received $144,000 in Sport Canada funding over three years, which should come in handy. To this point the team has been off-setting the cost through sponsorship money and funding Jones and Officer receive from the La Releve (curling development) program.

"The funding will help because (seeing a sports psychologist) is expensive," Jones said. "But when you are a carded athlete, that's what you get."

Overton-Clapham has been using Botterill's services for more than 15 years and was very happy to be joined by her new teammates.

"He has brought a lot to the team," Overton-Clapham said.

'SOME PERSPECTIVE'

"For the most part we just call him when we want to talk to him about something or before a big event, and he just gives us some perspective," added Jones. "You know he's been around ... he's been to so many Olympic Games and world championships, and he's got a lot of knowledge. You know, he's a great guy, too."

So when the team needs to find its happy place, it calls Botterill. Unless of course, you've just won the Canadian championship and don't need any help to find the right mental state.

"I was in a very good place before the world championship, so I didn't talk to Cal," Jones said.

"I was in my happy spot and feeling very good. It's really just more when we need him, he's always there."


Videos

Photos