WINNIPEG - Like second, like skip.
Manitoba’s Jennifer Jones is encouraged by the fact that her friend, Jill Officer, managed to give birth in December then return to one of the most demanding positions in competitive curling in January last winter.
Officer, who plays second, helped Jones win her fifth Manitoba title at the end of January, then the bronze medal at the national Scotties Tournament of Hearts in February.
“She was amazing,” said Jones, who is due to give birth to her first child in mid-December and is determined to return in time to compete at the Continental Cup in mid-January, then defend her Manitoba crown at the end of that month.
“There are certain things you can’t control, but that’s the plan right now,” Jones said recently. “I’m very excited.”
Jones, by the way, still lives in Winnipeg and plans to keep representing Manitoba until the end of the 2013-14 season, despite the fact that the father, Brent Laing, lives in Horseshoe Valley, Ont., where he will stay and continue to play second for reigning world champion Glenn Howard. The two commute back and forth.
Jones already has a bye into the provincials as the defending champ and a spot into the 2013 Canadian Curling Trials in Winnipeg, so her timing couldn’t have been better.
Jones, however, should be more concerned about delivering the baby than rocks right now, Officer said.
“She’s always wanted a family and we’re all really happy for her,” she said. “But every pregnancy and every labour’s different. Jen’s a pretty determined girl and, like me, it will be pretty hard for her not to curl.
“But this is a bigger deal than curling. It’s life-changing.”
It was difficult for Officer to return to the pebble as quickly as she did.
“There were good parts and bad parts,” Officer said. “And I learned a lot about myself.”
Adding to the challenge for Jones is that she had her right knee scoped earlier this summer.
“It’s fine,” assured the 38-year-old.
Jones has been overwhelmed with good wishes since the news broke about her pregnancy earlier this month.
“We’re very excited,” she said.
Third Kaitlyn Lawes, who will skip the squad while Jones is unavailable, has recruited Kirsten Wall, Sherry Middaugh’s former vice-skip, to play third.
Laing, by the way, will be in Winnipeg to help Jones with her inaugural curling camp at the St. Vital Curling Club in October.