Cathy O, Jones showdown brewing
By JIM BENDER, QMI Agency
|Jennifer Jones (left) competes with Cathy Overton-Clapham at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Charlottetown, P.E.I., Feb. 23, 2011. (SHAUN BEST/Reuters)
WINNIPEG - Wind the clock back to the most anticipated showdown in women’s curling history last winter.
Heck, some even went so far as to bill it as a colossal catfight on curling ice.
The vengeful match was between Manitoba’s Cathy Overton-Clapham and Team Canada’s Jennifer Jones at the national Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Charlottetown, P.E.I., almost a year after Jones suddenly sent Overton-Clapham, her former third, packing.
Overton-Clapham admitted she felt blindsided by her former teammates after helping Jones win four Canadian crowns and a world championship. Adding insult to injury was the fact that Overton-Clapham would be denied trips to the Canada and Continental Cups and a triumphant return to the Scotties as part of the defending championship team.
So, Overton-Clapham quickly threw a team together and earned her way back to the national stage by winning the Manitoba title. Then, she met Jones for the first time since the split in the Scotties round robin.
People around the world tuned in to watch Overton-Clapham wreak some sort of revenge with an 8-6 victory over Jones. TSN viewership peaked at 1.1 million and it was the third-highest rating for a round-robin game in tournament history. In fact, it even outdrew an NHL game that night.
“I had a fire under my —,” Overton-Clapham started to admit to reporters after the triumph, then caught herself. “Am I allowed to say that?”
Jones suggested the hype was actually good for the event.
Now, jump ahead to January 2012. Overton-Clapham and Jones are preparing to compete in the Manitoba Scotties Tournament of Hearts that starts in Portage la Prairie on Wednesday.
So, do they expect the hype of a Cold War II this week?
“I don’t think so — unless you guys (media) do it,” Overton-Clapham joked before heading to Portage.
“I have no idea,” responded Jones. “It’s been a long time now and I think everyone’s past that.”
Overton-Clapham, one of the most passionate players in the game, will never forget, but may forgive some day.
“It happened a long time ago, it’s all done,” she said, avoiding any talk of vengeance.
“We’re just worried about ourselves.”
With Jenna Loder now at third, Ashley Howard at second and Breanne Meakin moving down to lead, Overton-Clapham has enjoyed a successful cashspiel season. Her squad is second on the money list, just ahead of Jones, and is third on the all-important CTRS standings that can help her get to the 2013 Canadian Curling Trials in Winnipeg.
“We’re just trying to collect as many points as we can so we can get into the Canada Cup and get a trials spot,” said Overton-Clapham, the No. 2 seed this week.
Jones, who is in top spot in the CTRS standings, has already earned a trials berth through the Canada Cup, so her foursome will be more relaxed in Portage.
“It’s just fun for us right now,” said Jones, the top seed. “Winning the provincials this week would be a bonus.”
There’s actually a chance that the two rivals won’t even meet this week as they are in different pools for the round robin. But if the seedings are right, they will face each other in Sunday’s final.
Even if they do, I don’t really expect the same kind of smoke around this fire as there was in Charlottetown. However, if Overton-Clapham also makes it to the 2013 trials, you can expect nails to be unsheathed and sharpened then.