Jones team eager to move forward

TED WYMAN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 6:54 AM ET

PAISLEY, Scotland -- Canadian players did something they haven't been able to do much this curling season -- they cut loose a little.

Jennifer Jones and her Winnipeg teammates found themselves in a position they hadn't been in before at any championship in 2005 -- they were out of a tournament before the final day.

When their world women's curling championship ended after a 12-5 loss to Dordi Nordby of Norway in an elimination game on Saturday, the Canadians had some time to have a few laughs, exorcise a few curling demons and reflect on what went wrong before boarding a flight home today.

The sting of being only the fourth team in Canadian history to miss the playoffs at the world women's championship is still evident, but the Manitobans still know they have plenty to be proud of.

"Representing Canada and wearing this jacket is something you can't put into words," Jones said.

So it's likely Jones, third Cathy Overton-Clapham, second Jill Officer and lead Cathy Gauthier will come down that escalator at Winnipeg Airport today with their heads held high.

This slip-up at the worlds, while regrettable, simply can't take away from the team's accomplishments.

They won the provincial championship despite trailing Kristy Jenion in the final. They won the Canadian championship on a shot people around the world will remember forever. They proved themselves to be fighters time and time again, coming back from two down in the last end to beat Jenn Hanna in the Canadian final.

But still, many Canadian curling fans will ask "What have you done for us lately?"

'QUESTION MARKS'

"They all seem to look at you with question marks in their eyes," said Gauthier, who is coming home without a gold medal for the third time after winning silver in 1995 and bronze in 1992 with Connie Laliberte.

"This was ours to win, so when you come home without a medal people will be very curious about why we didn't win it."

On the whole you can expect the curlers to say it wasn't the greatest week of their lives. The event was a major disappointment, as was the facility, and there was certainly a feeling that women's curling was getting second-class treatment.

"The championship itself was a little less than we expected and was a little bit disappointing, but hopefully they'll learn more for next time," Jones said. "They've got to fine-tune some of these things. We work hard to get here, and it would be nice if it could be a little bit more like an event in Canada."

It would be easy to say that Jones and Co. would have fared better if the championship had been in Canada, as it will be next year in Grande Prairie, Alta.

And they just might get a chance to find out next year.

The Jones foursome will return to the Scott Tournament of Hearts next year as Team Canada, and there's no reason to think they can't repeat. And before that they will go to the Olympic trials in Halifax in December.

If they could pull off a win there and earn their way to the Olympics in Turin, next February would be quite a month. The curling portion of the Olympics ends Feb. 23 and the Scott in London, Ont., starts Feb. 25.

That's a tough schedule the Jones foursome would love to contend with, and it's something that would make people forget its performance here pretty quickly.

Still, with all that to look forward to, the Canadians aren't quite ready to put the Parody in Paisley behind them.

"It leaves a sour taste in your mouth, and yeah, there's next year and the Olympic trials, but it is a very bitter pill to swallow," Gauthier said.


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