Curlers pulled by lure of Olys

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 11:02 AM ET

The Olympic dream has burned within since Manitoba skip Jennifer Jones and second Jill Officer went through curling puberty together.

"It's something that we've all thought of for a really long time, even when curling was a demonstration sport (1992)," Officer said before heading to Halifax for the 2005 Canadian Curling Trials, which start tomorrow. "When it became an official sport and watching somebody like Sandra Schmirler and her team win the first gold medal, you start to think that it could happen to you.

"The fact that we're even in the trials is very, very exciting and to win it would just be absolutely phenomenal."

Jones, who won a national junior crown with Officer in 1994, concurred.

"Obviously, it would be absolutely fantastic to represent Canada at the Olympics," she said. "But the biggest thing is to go and play well and do the best that we can and hopefully, the cards will fly at the right spot.

"It doesn't get any better than the Olympics. It would be absolutely incredible but honestly, the biggest thing is to just go play well so that we have no regrets."

It was the lure of another Olympic dream that had Georgina Wheatcroft calling when Jones lost lead Cathy Gauthier.

"That's the reason I'm doing this," said Wheatcroft, who won the 2001 Olympic trials at second for B.C.'s Kelley Law. "That's the pinnacle of sport, The Show. It's where you want to go."

Jones, of course, qualified for these trials when she executed "The Shot Heard 'Round the Curling World" to win last year's Scott Tournament of Hearts. And just knowing your skipper is capable of making such shots means you are never out of any game.

"That does absolutely tremendous things for the confidence of the team," Officer said. "I knew before that Jennifer could make anything but that just proved it. I'm thrilled to be going to the trials with her as the skip and with the rest of the girls on the team. I have complete confidence in every single one of them."

Jones will be riding the momentum of a cashspiel season that has her sitting atop the money list.

And that should make Jones one of the trials favourites among a field that includes Nova Scotia's record-breaking Colleen Jones, Alberta's Shannon Kleibrink, the runner-up at the 1997 trials, Saskatchewan's Jan Betker, who played third for the late Schmirler in '97, Ontario's Sherry Middaugh and B.C.'s transplanted Manitoban Kelly Scott.

Rounding out the field are Saskatchewan's Sherry Anderson, the runner-up to Law in '01, and Stefanie Lawton, Ontario's Jo-Ann Rizzo and Quebec's Marie-France Larouche.


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